North Korea tested two new missiles on July 25, calling this action a “solemn warning” against what it described as “South Korean warmongers”.
The short-range missiles were fired into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, from Wonsan on North Korea’s east coast.
The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, said his country was forced to develop weapons to “eliminate potential and direct threats”.
Kim Jong-un said the test involved a new tactical guided weapons system.
His comments, reported in state media, come after North Korea criticized a decision by South Korea and the US to hold military drills next month.
North Korea has long regarded the drills as preparation for an invasion.
Though the US and South Korea have refused to cancel the annual military exercises, they have been scaled back significantly.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said one of the new missiles traveled about 420 miles. The US also confirmed that the missiles were “short-range”.
Kim Jong-un said he was “satisfied” with the new weapons system’s response and claimed it would “not be easy to defend against”.
The North Korean leader said that South Korea should “not make a mistake of ignoring the warning”.
South Korea has urged the North to stop acts that are unhelpful to easing tension and said the tests posed a military threat.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed concerns about the launch, however, calling them a negotiating tactic.
He told Bloomberg Television: “Everybody tries to get ready for negotiations and create leverage and create risk for the other side.
“We want diplomacy to work. If it takes another two weeks or four weeks, so be it.”
The test is the first since Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump met at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), an area that divides the two Koreas, on June 30.
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The missile launch also comes after anger from North Korea over planned military exercises between South Korea and the US, an annual event. North Korea warned they could affect the resumption of denuclearization talks.
About 29,000 US soldiers are based in South Korea, under a security agreement reached after the war ended in 1953.
In 2018, Kim Jong-un said North Korea would stop nuclear testing and would no longer launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Nuclear activity appears to be continuing, however, and satellite images of North Korea’s main nuclear site last month showed movement, suggesting the country could be reprocessing radioactive material into bomb fuel.
North Korea also continues to demonstrate its abilities to develop new weapons despite strict economic sanctions. Earlier this week Kim Jong-un inspected a new type of submarine, state media reported, which could be developed to carry ballistic missiles, according to some analysts.
In May, Pyongyang also conducted a similar short-range missile launch, its first such test since its intercontinental ballistic missile launch in 2017.
President Trump responded then by saying he believed Kim Jong-un would not do anything that could jeopardize his country’s path towards better relations.
Donald Trump tweeted that Kim Jong-un “knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me”.