The Associated Press SEOUL (AP) — North Korea’s test of a new missile is meant as a “solemn warning” over rival South Korea’s weapons development and plans to hold military drills with the United States, Pyongyang said Friday as it continued its pressure campaign ahead of potential nuclear talks.
South Korea’s military later said that the flight data of the weapon launched Thursday showed similarities to the Russian-made Iskander, a short-range, nuclear-capable missile. A North Korean version could likely reach all of South Korea — and the 28,500 U.S. forces stationed there — and would be extremely hard to intercept.
The North Korean statement was carried in state media and directed at “South Korean military warmongers.” It appears to be part of broader efforts during recent weeks to make sure Pyongyang gets what it wants as U.S. and North Korean officials struggle to set up working-level talks after a recent meeting on the Korean border between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who supervised Thursday’s test launch, and U.S. President Donald Trump seemed to provide a step forward in stalled nuclear negotiations.
Although the North had harsh words for South Korea, the statement stayed away from the kind of belligerent attacks on the United States that have marked past announcements, a possible signal that it’s interested in keeping diplomacy alive.
It made clear, however, that North Korea is infuriated over Seoul’s purchase of U.S.-made high-tech fighter jets and U.S.-South Korean plans to hold military drills this summer that the North says are rehearsals for an invasion and proof of the allies’ hostility to Pyongyang.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played down Thursday’s launches and said in an interview with Bloomberg TV that working-level talks with North Korea could start “in a couple weeks.”
“Everybody tries to get ready for negotiations and create leverage and create risk for the other side,” Pompeo said of the launches.
The North Korean statement was gloating at times, saying the weapons test “must have given uneasiness and agony to some targeted forces enough as it intended.” It also accused South Korea of introducing “ultramodern offensive weapons.”
That’s likely a reference to South Korea’s purchase and ongoing deployment of U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets. Earlier this month, North Korea said it would develop and test “special weapons” to destroy the aircraft. In its biggest weapons purchase, South Korea is to buy 40 F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin by 2021. The first two arrived in March and two others are to be delivered in coming weeks.
After watching the launches, Kim said the new weapons are hard to intercept because of their “low-altitude gliding and leaping flight orbit,” the North’s Korean Central News Agency reported Friday. He was quoted as saying the possession of “such a state-of-the-art weaponry system” is of “huge eventful significance” in bolstering his country’s armed forces and guaranteeing national security.Speech