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Seoul says DPRK fires suspected missiles

By PAN MENGQI | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-10 08:43

A missile is seen launched during a military drill in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, in this May 10, 2019 photo supplied by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). [Photo/Agencies]

Pyongyang fired a number of unidentified projectiles on Thursday afternoon, after a US envoy visited Seoul for discussions on breaking the nuclear deadlock, according to the Republic of Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

"North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) fired unidentified projectiles eastward," Yonhap quoted the ROK's Joint Chiefs of Staff as saying, without giving further information.

The launch came days after the DPRK carried out a "strike drill" on Saturday and fired multiple shortrange projectiles. It was also after the US Special Representative on the DPRK, Stephen Biegun, arrived in Seoul on Wednesday for talks with the ROK officials on the allies' approach toward Pyongyang.

ROK's Joint Chiefs of Staff Kim Joon-rak told Agence France-Presse that "Seoul is still analyzing whether it is a single or multiple projectiles".

In an editorial published by the DPRK's official Korean Central News Agency on Thursday, Pyongyang said that its recent firing of projectiles was part of regular and self-defensive training, warning that denying the right to such drills will result in consequences that "no one would want to see at all".

A spokesperson for the DPRK was quoted in the report, saying that it "makes no sense for some countries to make 'spiteful remarks' about Pyongyang's drill while keeping silent about 'war exercises' between the United States and the Republic of Korea".

"The recent drill conducted by our army is nothing more than part of the regular military training, and it has neither targeted anyone nor led to an aggravation of the situation in the region," the spokesperson said.

On Tuesday, the ROK's military called on the DPRK to "stop escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula", saying their recent move goes against the spirit of the inter-Korean military agreement, according to Yonhap News Agency.

In response, Pyongyang's spokesperson said: "If they attempt to deny our sovereignty and self-defensive right by making baseless allegations against us at anyone's instigation, it might produce a result of driving us to the direction which neither we nor they want to see at all."

Zhang Liangui, a professor of international politics at the Party School of the Communist Party of China's Central Committee, said the test of the "new tactical guided weapon" by the DPRK is a "gaming strategy" to put pressure on the US as the denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington has stalemated.

"But it is also worth noting that Pyongyang has emphasized the word 'tactical' in the name of the weapon, which means it is not a long-range missile that poses a threat to the US mainland," Zhang added.

Saturday's drills also highlighted the fragility of the detente between the two neighbors on the Korean Peninsula, Zhang said, as he noted that in a military agreement reached last September, Pyongyang and Seoul vowed to completely cease "all hostile acts" against each other in land, air and sea.

Saturday's drill was the first test of a ballistic missile by the DPRK since it launched a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017.

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