According to South Korea’s military, North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea.
South Korea said the missiles, launched off the east coast, flew some 300 miles and fell into the water.
Shortly after the launch, Pyongyang announced it “nullifies” all inter-Korean cooperative projects and will liquidate South Korean assets in the country.
Most South Korean assets in North Korea are in the jointly-operated Kaesong industrial zone.
South Korea pulled out of the Kaesong complex in February, after North Korea’s latest long-range missile launch of a satellite. At the time, the North called the shutdown “a declaration of war” and designated Kaesong as a military zone.
On March 9, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un also claimed scientists have developed nuclear warheads small enough to fit on ballistic missiles.
However, South Korea’s defense ministry said it thought North Korea had “not yet secured miniaturized nuclear warheads”.
The claim is critical, as without miniaturization Pyongyang cannot put its nuclear weapons on missiles – an ability many analysts think could still be several years away.
In response to the miniaturization claims, State Department spokesman John Kirby said of Kim Jong-un that “the young man needs to pay more attention to the North Korean people and taking care of them, than in pursuing these sorts of reckless capabilities”.
The two missiles launched on March 10 were fired from Hwanghae Province, the South Korean military said. It added that the missiles later fell into the sea off North Korea’s east coast, without providing further details.
Japan promptly lodged a protest to North Korea via its embassy in Beijing, over the latest launches, reported Kyodo news agency.
The missile launches are seen as North Korea’s response to the UN imposing some of its strictest sanctions, after the North conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and last month launched a satellite, both in contravention of existing sanctions.
Tensions have been especially high this week as US and South Korean forces hold their annual joint military exercises known as Key Resolve and Foal Eagle.
This year they are the largest ever, with about 17,000 US personnel and around 300,000 South Korean troops participating – both significant increases on 2015, in addition to increased naval and air force assets.
Two suspected short-range missiles have been launched by North Korea, South Korea says, in the fourth such test in two weeks.
The projectiles were fired from a western province into waters east of the Korean peninsula in the early hours of Wednesday, officials said.
The move follows a recent visit by the Chinese president to South Korea.
Chinese leaders traditionally go to Pyongyang before Seoul, and the visit has been seen as a snub to North Korea.
North Korea has fired two suspected short-range missiles into the sea
“North Korea fired two short-range missiles presumed to be Scud-type ones… from a site in Hwanghae province in a north-easterly direction,” South Korean spokesman Um Hyo-sik was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.
“They flew some 500km [310 miles] and landed in international waters,” he added, without giving further details.
North Korea has carried out several such launches in recent months, including four within the last two weeks.
It has interspersed these launches with apparently conciliatory moves towards the South, including a recent offer to suspend provocative military activities and cross-border slander.
Previous similar offers have come to nothing and South Korea has dismissed this latest offer.
The latest launch also comes days after Chinese President Xi Jinping and his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye reaffirmed their opposition to North Korean nuclear tests during talks in Seoul.
According to South Korean reports, North Korea has fired two more short-range rockets into the sea, the latest in a series of recent missile tests.
The rockets were fired off the east coast and flew about 110 miles, South Korean military officials said.
The move comes as China’s President Xi Jinping prepares to visit South Korea, with whom North Korea is technically at war.
It also comes a day after Japan urged Pyongyang to stop such launches and after Seoul rejected a North Korean offer to end hostilities as insincere.
The two rockets were fired from a site near the eastern city of Wonsan at 06:50 and 08:00, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
North Korea has fired two more short-range rockets into the sea
North Korea appeared to be testing the range of the projectiles, Yonhap news agency reported, citing military officials. It also carried out similar tests on June 26 and 29.
To date North Korea has carried out three nuclear tests and is believed to be working on long-range missile development. In recent months it has also carried out a steady stream of short-range missile tests.
Talks between North Korea’s leaders and other nations on ending its nuclear ambitions have been stalled for years.
China, which is North Korea’s biggest trading ally, is the nation believed to wield the most influence over Pyongyang.
But Beijing appears increasingly frustrated with its unreliable neighbor.
The issue of North Korea – including possible plans for a fourth nuclear test – is expected to top the agenda during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Seoul, which begins on Thursday.
North Korea has also in recent weeks alternated between threatening South Korea and offering apparent concessions.
On Monday Pyongyang offered to suspend hostile military activities and slander, a move Seoul described as “nonsensical”.
North Korea has made similar offers in the past but these have invariably broken down.
North Korea is also currently engaged in talks with Japan on the issue of Japanese nationals it abducted in the 1970s and 1980s to teach language and culture to its spies.
Japan criticized Sunday’s rocket launch at the start of one-day talks in Beijing on Tuesday, at which no breakthroughs were reported.
North Korea has launched three short-range missiles from its east coast, South Korea’s defence ministry said.
Two missiles were fired on Saturday morning and one in the afternoon, the South Korean ministry said in a statement.
Officials at the ministry said they were “monitoring the situation and remain on alert”.
The launches come at a time of stalemate between the two neighbors following weeks of high tension earlier this year.
Saturday’s missiles were fired in a north-east direction, and did not pose the same threat as the intermediate-range missiles Pyongyang was believed to have deployed along its coastline last month.
It removed them from the launch site early in May, indicating a lowering of tension on the peninsula, a US official said.
North Korea has launched three short-range missiles from its east coast
Such launches are routinely carried out by North Korea.
Tensions were high last month amid threats from North Korea to attack Japanese, South Korean and US military targets in the region and restart a mothballed nuclear reactor that produced plutonium for its weapons programme.
Pyongyang also shut down an emergency military hotline with South Korea, and withdrew some 53,000 workers from the Kaesong factory zone on its border with South Korea.
The threats followed tough new UN sanctions imposed on North Korea in March after its third nuclear test, as well as annual US-South Korea military drills that saw nuclear-capable B2 and B52 bombers flown over the Korean peninsula.
Divided Korea’s fragile peace:
Korea was occupied by the Allies after WWII ending decades of rule by Japan
Soviets occupied the north and the US the south, but as allies became Cold War rivals, unification talks failed and separate regimes evolved
In 1950, the Korean War saw Mao’s China back communist North Korea, while the US helped South Korea, fearing Asia would turn communist
A 1953 armistice created a fragile peace, and border tensions have lasted ever since
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