North Korea has test-fired two rockets from its east coast into the sea after a brief lull in testing since the end of October, as the end of year deadline looms for denuclearisation talks.
South Korea’s Ministry of Defence confirmed the test took place; however, Pyongyang has yet to release a statement.
South Korea’s Defence Ministry said in a statement: “North Korea launched two unknown projectiles today at 16:59 in Yeonpo, South Hamgyong province, at about 16:59.
“Our military maintains readiness to track and monitor relevant trends in preparation for further launches.”
According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the rockets flew almost 400km before landing in the sea. The launches come amid a stall in nuclear de-proliferation talks between the US and the North.
Yonhap News Agency reported that South Korean Major General Jeon Dong-jin said: “Our military expresses strong regret over the acts and urge North Korea to immediately stop such moves.”
Speaking to reporters, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded to the test, saying: “Multiple missile launches by North Korea are a serious challenge not only for Japan but also international society.
“We will remain in close contact with the United States, South Korea and the international community to monitor the situation. We will increase our vigilance to preserve the safety and assets of the Japanese people.”
Time for an agreement between the US and North Korea is running out as both country’s approach an end-of-the-year deadline imposed by Pyongyang. North Korea recently signalled that it had lost interest in holding talks with the US.
Previously in a statement carried by state media, advisor to the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK Kim Kye Gwan said: “Three rounds of DPRK-U.S. summit meetings and talks were held since June last year, but no particular improvement has been achieved in the DPRK-US relations. And the US only seeks to earn time, pretending it has made progress in settling the issue of the Korean peninsula.
“We are no longer interested in such talks that bring nothing to us.”