North Korea has fired several short-range projectiles eastward from the city of Wonsan on its east coast, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, which initially misidentified the objects as missiles.
The projectiles went off at 9:06 a.m. on Saturday from the east coast town of Wonsan in the direction of the Sea of Japan (known in the Koreas as the East Sea), Yonhap news agency reported, quoting South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), which initially misidentified the objects as ballistic missiles. The projectiles flew between 70 and 200km.
South Korean and US authorities are reportedly analyzing the firing.
Disarmament talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump collapsed in Hanoi earlier this year when the US leader refused to relax sanctions without Pyonyang’s unconditional denuclearization.
Following a summit in Vladivostok last month, Vladimir Putin affirmed Russia’s support for gradual nuclear disarmament in exchange for sanctions relief.
Putin and Trump discussed the issue in a phone call on Friday, agreeing on the need to pursue denuclearization, with Trump pushing Putin to join the US in applying pressure on Kim to disarm.
Thawing relations between North and South Korea have seemingly reversed their course in the aftermath of the failed Hanoi summit, with Pyongyang pulling out of a celebration of the anniversary of last year’s historic summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim in the DMZ, and ceasing to attend weekly joint meetings.
The North has also slammed the South for ramping up its participation in “war games” with the US, warning last week that a “corresponding response” was imminent in the face of such “acts of perfidy.” The US and South Korea began two weeks of joint air force exercises last Monday, a more low-key version of the annual Max Thunder drills.
North Korea conducted 17 missile tests in 2017, provoking international outcry when several of the missiles passed over Japan. Last year, Kim began dismantling the North’s missile and rocket test site, a process that has reportedly been reversed in the wake of the failed Hanoi nuclear talks, and promised to stop testing ICBMs.