North Korea Fires Unidentified Projectile

By Reuters

SEOUL—North Korea fired an unidentified projectile on Thursday, May 9, the South’s military chiefs said, less than a week after its leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the test-firing of multiple rockets and a missile.

The projectile was fired at about 4:30 p.m. from the northwest location of Sino-ri, towards the east, the South’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. It did not immediately release further details.

Sino-ri is believed to be home to one of about 20 undeclared missile facilities that Pyongyang operates throughout the country according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Beyond Parallel program.

Last week North Korea launched a number of rockets and at least one short-range missile from its east coast into the ocean, sharply raising tension on the Korean peninsula at a time of stalemate in talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

Kim Jung Un 2
North Korean military conducts a “strike drill” for multiple launchers and tactical guided weapon into the East Sea during a military drill in North Korea on May 4, 2019. (KCNA via Reuters)

On Wednesday North Korea lashed out at the United States and South Korea, saying last week’s strike drill was “regular and self-defensive” and rejecting the notion that it was an act of provocation.

South Korea responded to last week’s action by the North by calling for an end to acts that escalate military tension.

The area where Thursday’s projectile was launched is believed to be the site of a medium-range Rodong missile base on NorthKorea‘s west coast, a Washington-based think tank, the Center for Stratetic International Studies, says.

A test of weapon systems, in North Korea
A test of weapon systems in North Korea on May 4, 2019. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Saturday’s launch of a short-range missile from another east coast area was the North‘s first test of a ballistic missile since it launched an intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017.

At that time, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared its nuclear force was complete and extended an olive branch to the South and the United States, holding two summit meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump and three with the South Korean leader.

‘Deal Will Happen’

President Trump expressed confidence that North Korea’s leadership will not jeopardize the economic prosperity of their nation and that a denuclearization deal will be struck, after several short-range projectiles were launched from its east coast.

North Korea is currently under strict economic sanctions imposed by the international community—lead by the United States—after Kim Jong Un ramped up a nuclear weapons program in 2017.

Those sanctions brought Kim Jong Un to the negotiating table for a historic meeting with President Trump last year, when the North Korean leader promised to pause the nuclear weapons development program and stop testing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

On May 4, South Korean officials said that “missiles” had been fired 40-125 miles out to sea from the coast of North Korea. It later downgraded the description to “projectiles.”

North Korea fires missile
Four ballistic missiles were launched by the Korean People’s Army during a military drill at an undisclosed location in North Korea, in a picture dated March 7, 2017. (AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump responded on May 4, writing on Twitter, “Anything in this very interesting world is possible, but I believe that Kim Jong Un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea, and will do nothing to interfere or end it.”

“He also knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen!”

The projectiles fired on May 4 do not appear in violation of North Korea’s promises and are a far cry from the long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles that North Korea was test-firing before sanctions were tightened.

However, according to some analysts they are something of a warning shot.

“Clearly, Pyongyang is frustrated with the conclusion of the recent summit with Washington in Vietnam that did not produce any breakthrough,” Harry J. Kazianis, the director of Korean Studies at the Center for the National Interest, said in a statement Friday night, reported The Hill.

“It also seems clear that North Korea is angry over what appears to be a lack of flexibility in the Trump administration’s position on relieving sanctions, sticking to a policy of ‘maximum pressure.’”

In February, President Trump walked away from the second talks without a deal, after North Korea insisted on lifting sanctions without offering enough denuclearization in return.

Trump-Kim Summit
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands before their one-on-one chat during the second U.S.-North Korea summit at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam on Feb. 27, 2019. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

“It was about the sanctions,” Trump said. “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that. They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that.”

While the two leaders failed to reach a consensus, Trump said the summit was “very productive.” The president added he had a proposed agreement that was “ready to be signed,” but said he didn’t want to rush into a bad deal.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement that several unidentified short-range projectiles flew some 70 to 200 kilometers (about 44 to 125 miles) from the north of the city of Wonsan around 9 a.m. local time before they landed in the water.

Surveillance and vigilance have been stepped up to prepare for any further launches by North Korea, and the South Korean military maintains readiness and is cooperating with the United States, the JCS added.

“Our military has been closely watching North Korea’s movements and has maintained a full-fledged posture in close coordination with the U.S.,” the JCS said in a statement quoted by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

Epoch Times reporter Simon Veazey and The CNN Wire contributed to this article.