North Korea Tests Two Short-Range Ballistic Missiles

July 25, 2019 Updated: July 25, 2019

North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea for the first time in two months on July 25, according to South Korean officials.

The missiles were fired from near the eastern coastal town of Wonsan, with one flying roughly 270 miles and the other 430 miles before splashing into the Sea of Japan off the coast of North Korea, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. South Korea’s presidential Blue House described the weapons as “a new kind of short-range ballistic missiles.”

North Korean state media didn’t report the launches.

A senior Trump administration official told The Epoch Times that the White House is aware of the reports but declined to provide further comment.

North Korea is banned by the United Nations Security Council from launching ballistic missiles. The communist regime is currently under 11 rounds of sanctions, which are typically imposed in response to long-range launches.

The missiles were fired from mobile launchers and flew at an altitude of approximately 30 miles, according to a South Korean defense official.

In late June, U.S. President Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to cross into North Korea. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held a summit at the border and agreed to resume denuclearization negotiations, which have stalled since their second summit in Vietnam in February.

North Korea has criticized the small-scale military drills planned by the United States and South Korea for August. The communist regime threatened on July 16 to resume testing of nuclear and long-range missiles if the drills go forward. North Korea also refused to accept an offer of 50,000 tons of rice from South Korea, in protest of the drills.

“North Korea appears to be thinking its diplomacy with the U.S. isn’t proceeding in a way that they want,” said analyst Kim Dae-young at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy. “So they’ve fired missiles to get the table to turn in their favor.”

Kim Jong Un inspected a new submarine on July 23, according to North Korean state media. Experts who analyzed the images say the submarine may be capable of carrying two or three launch tubes for missiles. North Korea has approximately 70 submarines, according to South Korean government documents.

In early May, North Korea launched three short-range missiles. At the time, many experts said those missiles strongly resembled the Russian-designed Iskander, a short-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile that has been in the Russian arsenal for more than a decade.

Analyst Kim Dong-yub at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies said the latest missiles could be Scud-C ballistic missiles or KN-23 surface-to-surface missiles, a North Korean version of the Iskander.

The latest launches came amid a flaring of tensions in North Asia after South Korean fighter jets fired warning shots on July 23 to drive away a Russian reconnaissance plane that Seoul says violated its airspace. Before the alleged intrusion, Seoul said Russian and Chinese warplanes, including the reconnaissance aircraft, made an extremely unusual joint entrance into South Korea’s air defense identification zone, causing South Korean military jets to scramble.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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