North Korea Launches Two More Missiles in Latest Provocation

Gearoid Reidy and Jihye Lee

(Bloomberg) -- North Korea launched more missiles on Saturday, the latest in the most prolific series of tests since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said two ballistic missiles were launched from south Hamgyong, traveling about 380 kilometers (236 miles) and reaching a maximum altitude of 97 kilometers. They landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Japan’s Coast Guard said in a statement.

The U.S. assessed that two short-range missiles were fired in the direction of the Sea of Japan, about 15 minutes apart, officials told CNN. South Korea said the tests took place at 6:45 a.m. and 7:02 a.m. local time, and that it will analyze the information with the U.S.

Kim Jong Un’s regime has conducted a series of short-range ballistic missile tests in recent weeks as he seeks a more favorable negotiating framework in nuclear talks with Trump. The U.S. leader has said the tests shouldn’t disrupt talks, so long as Kim doesn’t launch longer-range missiles that could strike America.

South Korea’s presidential office expressed deep concern over North Korea’s continued missile launches, despite the fact that joint drills between the U.S. and South Korea had finished, according to a text message. It urged North Korea to halt action that raises military tension in the peninsula. Japan’s defense ministry said it was aware of the launches and would update with more information when available.

North Korea has issued several statements in recent days saying that military moves by the U.S. and South Korea are making it more difficult for the country to participate in talks. On Friday, North Korea’s top diplomat accused Secretary of State Michael Pompeo of undermining negotiations, even as Trump’s nuclear envoy, Stephen Biegun, was in Seoul.

Related story: North Korea Testing Missiles Faster Than Days of ‘Fire and Fury’

South Korea said it will provide Japan with information on the missile launch upon request as an intelligence-sharing pact between the two is still in force. On Thursday, South Korea notified Japan of plans to withdraw from a three-year-old framework for exchanging classified military information as their feud over trade measures and historical grievances extended into security cooperation.

(Updates with text message statement from South Korea’s presidential office.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Gearoid Reidy in Tokyo at greidy1@bloomberg.net;Jihye Lee in Seoul at jlee2352@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gearoid Reidy at greidy1@bloomberg.net, ;Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Gareth Allan, Reed Stevenson

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