North Korea launched two short-distance projectiles Tuesday, a few hours after offering to restart talks with the United States this month.
It is the tenth set of weapons tests since May. That is when North Korea restarted missile tests after more than one year without one.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectiles were launched from South Pyongan Province in the country’s western area and landed in the sea off of North Korea’s eastern coast.
American and South Korean officials said the projectiles traveled about 330 kilometers. The South Korean military called for the North to “immediately stop” actions that increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula. U.S. officials said they knew about the activity and were working closely with allies.
North Korea offers to restart talks
The test comes hours after North Korean vice foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, said that North Korea was willing to restart talks with the U.S. this month.
“We are willing to sit face-to-face with the U.S. around late September at a time and place that we can agree on,” Choe said. Her statement was carried by the official North Korean Central News Agency.
However, Choe said that the U.S. must produce an “acceptable calculation” or risk the end of talks. North Korea has been seeking some compromise from the U.S. in easing economic sanctions.
Reporters later asked U.S. President Donald Trump about the offer to meet for talks. He said, “I always say having meetings is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held their second set of talks in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February, but did not reach a deal. Trump rejected Kim’s demand for relief from some U.S. economic sanctions in return for moves to partly end the North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
The two leaders did meet for a short time in June at the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea. However, working-level talks have not yet started.
At their first talks in Singapore last year, Trump and Kim approved a statement calling for the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
But since then, North Korea has not reduced its nuclear weapons program. And in a report last week, the United Nations said the North’s development of nuclear warheads has not stopped.
Kim warned in his New Year’s speech that he may take a “new path” if the U.S. does not change its approach to the talks. The North has set a time limit of the year’s end. After that time, it might restart nuclear and long-distance missile tests.
Kim Dong-yub is an expert with the Institute for Far Eastern Studies in Seoul. He said the most recent launch may be the latest warning about a “new path.”
He added, “It is intended to send a message to the U.S. that…it can go further next year during the presidential race.”
I’m Jonathan Evans.
William Gallo and Ken Bredemeier reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
projectile –n. something that is shot or fired as a weapon
sanction –n. an action taken in order to force a country to obey international laws usually by limiting trade with that country
scenario –n. a description of what could possibly happen
intend –v. to plan to want to do something
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