North Korea fires two ballistic missile into the sea

South Korea’s military said North Korea fired projectiles into its eastern waters on Thursday as it revives its testing activity to expand its military capabilities and pressure on the Biden administration amid a stalemate in diplomacy.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the US and South Korean militaries were analysing the launches that were conducted from an area on the North’s eastern coast. It didn’t immediately say whether they assessed the weapons as ballistic or how far they flew, but Japan’s Defence Ministry has labelled the missiles as short-range ballistics.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends at a meeting of Central Committee of Worker’s Party of Korea in Pyongyang in February.

Korean Central News Agency/AP

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends at a meeting of Central Committee of Worker’s Party of Korea in Pyongyang in February.

The launches came a day after US and South Korean officials said the North fired short-range weapons presumed as cruise missiles into its western sea over the weekend.

The North’s weapons demonstrations come amid stalled nuclear negotiations with the United States. Talks faltered after the collapse of Kim Jong Un’s second summit with former US President Donald Trump in February 2019 where the Americans rejected North Korean demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of their nuclear capabilities.

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The North has so far ignored the Biden administration’s efforts to reach out, saying it won’t engage in meaningful talks with the US unless Washington abandons what Pyongyang sees as “hostile” policies, which clearly refers to the US-led sanctions and pressure over its nuclear program.

Kim’s powerful sister last week berated the United States over its combined military exercises with South Korea, describing the drills as an invasion rehearsal and warned Washington to “refrain from causing a stink” if it wants to “sleep in peace” for the next four years.

South Korea’s Defence Ministry said the North’s short-range tests earlier this week were its first missile firings since April 2020. Biden played down those launches, telling reporters, “There’s no new wrinkle in what they did.”

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