North Korea said Friday that its latest missile test was a “solemn warning” to South Korea against joint military exercises with the United States, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested the launch would not disrupt the resumption of nuclear talks.
The North fired two short-range missiles into the sea off its eastern coast on Thursday, the first launch since President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Korean border on June 30 and agreed to resume stalled nuclear talks.
Playing down the launch, Pompeo said he anticipated negotiations would start “in a couple weeks.”
“Look, everybody tries to get ready for negotiations and create leverage, and create risk for the other side,” he said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “President Trump has been incredibly consistent here. We want diplomacy to work.”
The comments came before the North released photos of the missiles launched and issuing the warning against military exercises. New details also emerged about the weapons fired.
‘Not a threat’
The Combined Forces Command, which is led by the top U.S. general in South Korea, said the launches appeared to be “a test of a new type of missile,” reinforcing the South Korean assessment.
“These two short-range ballistic missiles were not a threat directed at [South Korea] or the U.S. and have no impact on our defense posture,” the command said Friday in a statement.
South Korea’s military, meanwhile, said both missiles flew more than 370 miles, revising its earlier estimate. They reached an altitude of about 32 miles, officials said.
The new missiles appeared to be similar to Russia’s Iskander model, according to a spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, Col. Kim Joon-rak.
That means they could be designed to avoid American and South Korean defenses on the divided peninsula, including the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system known as THAAD.
The North also fired two short-range missiles in early May, and the Korean leader was shown inspecting a new submarine in photos released Wednesday.
The North warned earlier this month that it may restart testing in its nuclear weapons program to protest joint U.S.-South Korean drills expected to take place next month.
Kim oversaw the demonstration of a “new-type tactical guided weapon,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.
KCNA said the demonstration was aimed at sending “a solemn warning to the South Korean military warmongers who are running high fever in their moves to introduce the ultramodern offensive weapons and hold military exercises in defiance of the repeated warnings” from the North