North Korea launched a fresh round of ballistic missiles into the sea early Tuesday and warned it could take a “new road” in response to U.S.-South Korean military exercises that began this week.
The North fired two short-range ballistic missiles from South Hwanghae Province in the western part of the country, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. The missiles traveled about 450 kilometers and reached a height of about 37 kilometers, it added.
U.S. and South Korean intelligence officials say the missiles appear to be similar to the short-range ballistic missiles launched by North Korea on July 25, the statement said. North Korea has conducted four rounds of short-range ballistic missile launches in about the past two weeks, raising doubts about working-level nuclear talks that U.S. officials had hoped would begin last month.
Minutes before the latest test, North Korea’s foreign ministry released a statement slamming the joint drills as a “flagrant violation” of its recent agreements with Washington and Seoul.
“We have already warned several times that the joint military exercises would block progress in the DPRK-U.S. relations and the inter-Korean relations and bring us into reconsideration of our earlier major steps,” said a North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson quoted by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
The U.S. and South Korea moved ahead with the joint exercises, which started Monday, even while calling on North Korea to engage in working-level nuclear talks. The U.S. and South Korea say the drills are defensive in nature, while North Korea sees them as preparation to invade.
“The U.S. and South Korean authorities remain outwardly talkative about dialogue. But when they sit back, they sharpen a sword to do us harm,” the KCNA statement said, adding Pyongyang may “be compelled to seek a new road as we have already indicated.”
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