TOKYO (Sputnik) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s administration does not rule out that Saturday’s short-range missile launches by Pyongyang demonstrate North Korea’s readiness for dialogue despite the ongoing US-South Korean drills, a source in the administration told Yonhap news agency on Sunday.
On Saturday, North Korea test fired short-rage ballistic missiles off the eastern coast. The US Pacific Command said it had detected three launches, two of which failed in flight, while a third one appeared to have blown up almost immediately. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff estimated the missiles had traveled over 150 miles before plunging into the Sea of Japan. Tokyo said the tests did not pose a direct threat to Japan’s security
“It is clear that the current situation has nothing to do with strategic provocations … It seems that North Korea is trying not to aggravate the situation. This kind of low-intensity provocation can be read as a signal that a mood for dialogue can follow the allies’ military exercises,” the source said.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have recently flared up following the adoption of new UN Security Council sanctions in early August in response to Pyongyang’s July missile launches. The move led to North Korea trading threats and warnings with the United States. Most notably, Pyongyang said it might consider an attack on the area near the US territory of Guam in the Western Pacific.
Despite the improvement of rhetoric over the recent days, Washington and Seoul started their joint Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) drill in South Korea on August 21, which are supposed to last until August 31. The North condemned the drills saying they would only escalate the situation in the region.
In June, China initiated a road map for the settlement of North Korean crisis, the so-called double freeze plan, which provides for the simultaneous cessation of North Korea’s nuclear activity and the US-South Korean military exercises. The initiative has been supported by Russia but rejected by the United States. North Korea has yet to issue a response to the proposal.