The 'unidentified short-range projectiles' were reportedly launched from the Hodo Peninsula, an area on the east coast of North Korea known for live-fire testing of rockets, artillery and cruise missiles since the 1960s.
The South initially reported that a single missile was fired, but later issued a statement that said “several projectiles” had been launched and that they flew up to 125 miles before splashing into the sea toward the northeast. Experts say the North may increase these sorts of low-level provocations to apply pressure on the United States to agree to reduce crushing international sanctions.
If it’s confirmed that the North fired banned ballistic missiles, it would be the first such launch since the North’s November 2017 test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. That year saw a string of increasingly powerful weapons tests from the North, and a belligerent response from President Donald Trump that had many in the region fearing war.
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The launches comes amid a diplomatic breakdown that has followed the failed summit earlier this year between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the North’s pursuit of a nuclear arsenal that can target the U.S. mainland.
In March, President Donald Trump said he was a “little disappointed” by reports of new activity at a North Korean missile research center and long-range rocket site. Trump said time will tell if U.S. diplomacy with the reclusive country will be successful.
During the diplomacy that followed a rocky 2017, Kim Jong Un said that the North would not test nuclear devices or ICBMs.
This short-range missile would not violate that self-imposed moratorium. It may instead be a way to register his displeasure with Washington and the state of talks meant to provide sanctions relief for disarmament without having the diplomacy collapse.
Please check back for updates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.