North Korea fired several short-term projectiles into the sea Saturday, in what could be the country’s first missile test since 2017 and a possible warning to the U.S. after the two countries’ denuclearization talks stalled.
While it’s not clear what the projectiles are, the South Korean military, which reported the test and originally identified the projectiles as “short-term missiles” before revising its statement, has used the term before for missiles before they can be identified. There is no evidence that the test Saturday involved a nuclear explosion and it appears not to have been an intercontinental ballistic missile, according to the New York Times.
The projectiles were fired from the east coast of the peninsula and launched 45 to 125 miles. The launches will not have violated the moratorium the country declared in November 2017 on nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile tests, according to the Washington Post. That moratorium was intended to help clear the path for negotiations with the U.S. and South Korea.
In April, North Korea tested a new weapon, which it called a “tactical guided weapon,” and which is thought to have been a more conventional weapon. That test appeared to be a warning to President Trump to continue the talks between the two nations, as in February a failed summit in Vietnam between Trump and Kim Jong-un resulted only in frustration. In that summit, Kim demanded sanctions relief in return for partial disarmament and Trump refused to lift sanctions until North Korea gave up all of its nuclear weapons. The two did agree to remain in discussions, and both nations have said a third summit between the two leaders remained a possibility.
Since then, it appears North Korea has only become more frustrated with sanctions and the hard line taken by the U.S, as well as with continued U.S.-South Korea military exercises. Last month, Kim said in a speech he was losing patience and that he would give the U.S. until the end of the year to come up with new terms.
According to the Post, South Korea’s president said the North’s actions violated a September military cooperation agreement between the two countries aimed at reducing tensions. A spokeswoman for the president said the South would work with the U.S. to “ramp up vigilance and closely communicate with neighboring countries as needed.” According to the Times, the South Korean foreign minister said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said in a conversation with her that the U.S. would respond “with caution.” In a tweet on Saturday, Trump said he still believes he can reach a nuclear deal with Kim.