North Korea unleashes series of missile tests

Elias Hubbard
August 13, 2019

North Korea's missile test on Saturday suggests the North is capable of raining down hundreds of cluster munitions that can decimate an area the size of three to four football fields.

South Korea believes it's North Korea's protest against the joint annual military drills performed by South Korea and the US.

South Korea's military said it appeared that two short-range ballistic missiles fired by the North flew almost 250 miles and reached an altitude of almost 30 miles before splashing into the sea off the eastern coast.

Photographs from the weapons test released by KCNA on Sunday showed a rocket being launched from a transporter erector launcher (TEL) with a different exterior paint job from the missile fired last Tuesday or the rocket artillery the regime said it tested on July 31 and August 2.

North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released several photos of missile test launches on Sunday.

They were the "North Korean version of a low-priced, high-efficiency retaliation system" aimed at "incapacitating missile defence systems" in the South, Kim added.

South Korean National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon met his North Korean counterpart Jang Kum-chol, head of the North's United Front Department (UFD), the Yonhap News Agency said, citing a government source.

"They had better keep in mind that this dialogue would be held strictly between (North Korea) and the U.S., not between the North and the South", it said.

The United States has sharply scaled back the size and scope of the drills since Trump announced he was "stopping the war games" after his first summit with Kim a year ago.

The second round of denuclearization talks between Trump and Kim concluded in Hanoi in late February. There have been no nuclear tests.

Yet the speed and distance covered by the latest projectiles, experts say, make it likely they were short-range ballistic missiles, though perhaps not the same Russian-made Iskander variants from earlier tests.

North Korea showed off another missile on Sunday, hours after President Donald Trump said he's not anxious about the recent spate of launches and raised hope for new nuclear talks with the communist state. "It was also a small apology for testing the short range missiles, and that this testing would stop when the exercises end".

While the North has been careful to avoid criticism of Trump, it stepped up its criticism of the South over the exercises in a separate report on Sunday.

Shin Beom-chul, an analyst at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul, said Trump's downplaying of the launches were equvalent to endorsing the missile tests.

This intent was apparently also made clear in the letter sent to Trump, which the USA president tweeted Saturday expressed Kim's interest in meeting to restart denuclearization negotiations once the joint exercises are concluded.

Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said by appealing directly to Trump, Kim was "trying to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul" as Pyongyang seeks to break the alliance.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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