Appearing to have resumed weapons tests, North Korea fired two projectiles into its eastern sea in an alleged attempt to put pressure on the United States to resolve the current stalemate in nuclear negotiations, officials in South Korea and Japan have said.
The launch comes following statements of displeasure from North Korean officials over the slow pace of nuclear negotiations with the United States. They expressed growing dissatisfaction with crippling sanctions placed on the country by the Trump administration.
Authorities say North Korea could ramp up their weapons demonstrations as the end-of-year deadline—placed on the United States by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to devise mutually acceptable terms—approaches.
According to the Washington Post, talks between United States and North Korean officials broke down in Stockholm earlier in October, where North Korea walked away from the discussion calling them “sickening.”
According to Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, weapons were fired from an area near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang and flew about 230 miles across the country at the height of up to 56 miles before landing off its eastern coast.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff say that they have urged the North to “immediately stop actions that do not help efforts to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.”
Japanese military said the missiles didn’t penetrate Japan’s territorial waters. Still, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe none the less condemned the launches “as an act that threatens the peace and safety of Japan and the region.”
According to Stripes.com, a “real-world missile alert” was issued by Japanese officials, and a message was posted on its official Facebook page at 4:50 p.m. Thursday urging personnel to “seek shelter.”
Senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol said on Sunday that his country was running out of patience with the United States over what it described as unilateral disarmament demands, claiming the Trump administration would be making a serious mistake if it ignored the end-of-year deadline.
Nam Sung-wook, a North Korea expert at Seoul’s Korea University, said more North Korean weapons displays are likely.
“North Korea is investing all its strength in a hard-line position against Washington and Seoul,” said Nam. “If its missiles fly over Japan, the international impact would be huge because the United States and Japan would find it difficult to let it go.”
Last week, Kim ordered the destruction of South Korean-built facilities at a long-shuttered joint tourist project at North Korea’s scenic Diamond Mountain resort. South Korea later proposed talks, but North Korea has insisted they exchange documents to satisfy the details of Kim’s order.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.