North Korea fires two missiles into sea, South says

Experts say the North’s weapons display could intensify in the coming months if progress isn’t made on the nuclear talks.

epa07738873 South Korean people watch breaking news of North Korea's missile launch, at Seoul Station in Seoul, South Korea, 25 July 2019. According to South Korea's military, North Korea on 25 July fired two short-range missiles toward the East Sea.  EPA/KIM CHUL-SOO
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North Korea on Tuesday fired two more unidentified missiles into the sea while lashing out at the US and South Korea for continuing their joint military exercises, which Pyongyang says could derail nuclear talks.

South Korea’s military reported the launches just minutes before the North’s Foreign Ministry denounced Washington and Seoul over the start of their joint exercises on Monday.

The ministry said the drills forced the North “to develop, test and deploy the powerful physical means essential for national defence".

It said Pyongyang remained committed to dialogue but it could seek a “new road” if the allies did not change their positions.

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missiles were launched from an area near the North’s western coast and flew cross-country before landing in water off the country’s east.

It did not immediately say how many projectiles were fired or how far they flew.

The North last week conducted two test-firings of what it called a new rocket artillery system and launched a short-range ballistic missile launch on July 25.

It said this was a “solemn warning” to South Korea over its plans to continue military drills with the US.

Experts said the North’s weapons display could intensify in the coming months if progress were not made on the nuclear talks.

The allies have scaled down their major military exercises since the first summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump June 2018 in Singapore.

The US has also stopped sending long-range bombers and aircraft carriers to the region to allow for diplomacy with Pyongyang.

The North insists even the downsized drills break agreements between Mr Kim and Mr Trump, who in Singapore vowed to improve ties and issued a statement on a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing when and how it would occur.

Nuclear negotiations have been at a standstill since the collapse of their second in Vietnam in February, over disagreements in exchanging sanctions relief for disarmament.

The North’s recent tests have dampened the optimism that followed the third summit between Mr Trump and Mr Kim on June 30 at the inter-Korean border.

The leaders agreed to resume working-level nuclear talks that stalled since February, but there have been no known meetings between the two sides since.