North Korea threatens more launches after fourth test in 12 days

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the two projectiles are assumed to be short-range ballistic missiles. (File/AFP)
Updated 06 August 2019

North Korea threatens more launches after fourth test in 12 days

  • North Korea called the joint drills between US and South Korea as a “flagrant violation” of regional talks
  • North Korea is banned from using ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolution

SEOUL: North Korea threatened Tuesday to carry out more weapons tests after it fired its fourth pair of projectiles in less than two weeks following the start of joint exercises between the US and the South.
The rising temperature on the peninsula threatens to derail putative negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington, with the North saying the combined drills were a “flagrant violation” of the process.
Pyongyang has always been infuriated by military exercises between the South and US, seeing them as rehearsals for invasion, but in the past it has tended to avoid carrying out missile tests while the war games were taking place.
The speed of its statement Tuesday was also unusual, coming within an hour of the launch, rather than the more normal day later.
The North fired “two projectiles that are assumed to be short-range ballistic missiles” from South Hwanghae province on its west coast, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
They flew around 450 kilometres across the peninsula and into the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, reaching an altitude of 37 kilometres and a speed of “at least Mach 6.9,” the South’s military said.
That puts them around the middle of the range of projectiles that have been fired by the North four times in the past 12 days.
Seoul has said all were likely to be short-range ballistic missiles — the North is banned from ballistic missile launches under UN Security Council resolutions — while Pyongyang has described some as a “large-calibre multiple-launch guided rocket system” or “tactical guided weapon.”
The latest launch came after the South Korean and US militaries began mainly computer-simulated joint exercises on Monday to test Seoul’s ability to take operational control in wartime.
Less than an hour after the North’s weapons test, an official of its foreign ministry said the drills were “an undisguised denial and a flagrant violation” of the diplomatic process between Pyongyang, Washington and Seoul.
All joint drills between the South and the US were “aggressive war exercises simulating the surprise and preemptive attack on the DPRK,” the spokesperson said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.
“So we are compelled to develop, test and deploy the powerful physical means essential for national defense,” the official added. “The US and south Korean authorities cannot counter this even though they have 10 mouths.”
The North attacked its neighbor in 1950, triggering the Korean War, but has long argued it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself against invasion from the US.
Park Won-gon, an international relations professor at Handong Global University, said more missile launches during the joint exercises were “highly likely.”
If dialogue resumed later, he added, “it can use these missile tests to pressure Seoul and Washington.”
“The problem is that South Korea and the US virtually haven’t responded at all to these recent launches, allowing Pyongyang to test as many times as they want,” he told AFP.
US President Donald Trump last week downplayed the North’s launches, saying the North’s leader Kim Jong Un would not want to “disappoint” him.
After a year of mutual threats and mounting tension, the two men held a historic summit in Singapore last year, where Kim made a vague pledge to work toward “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
A second summit in Hanoi in February broke up amid disagreements over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang might be willing to give up in return.
Trump and Kim agreed to resume nuclear talks during an impromptu June meeting in the Demilitarised Zone that divides the peninsula, but that working-level dialogue has yet to begin.
Analysts say the military maneuvers on both sides could see discussions pushed back until the autumn, and Pyongyang signalled Tuesday that it was in no mood to talk.
“A constructive dialogue cannot be expected at a time when a simulated war practice targeted at the dialogue partner is being conducted,” said the North’s foreign ministry spokesperson.
“There is no need to have a fruitless and exhausting dialogue with those who do not have a sense of communication,” they added.
After the Singapore summit, Trump made a shock announcement halting joint drills, adopting Pyongyang’s own description of them as “provocative.”
War games known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) and scheduled for August last year were subsequently suspended and the allies’ biggest annual drills, Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, were replaced with a shorter “Dong Maeng” or “Alliance” exercise in March.


Britain’s William and Kate begin ‘complex’ tour of Pakistan

Updated 9 min 50 sec ago

Britain’s William and Kate begin ‘complex’ tour of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Prince William and his wife Kate arrived in Pakistan to a red carpet welcome late Monday for their “most complex” tour to date, with Islamabad eager to tout improved security after years of violent militancy.
The couple — the Duchess of Cambridge in a sea-green shalwar kameez, and the Duke in a dark suit — were greeted by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and presented with flowers after they landed in a British government plane at a military base in Rawalpindi, the garrison city adjacent to the capital Islamabad, state television images showed.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge (@katemidleton) on


Details of the five-day visit are being kept under wraps. Security is expected to be tight for the couple’s first official trip to Pakistan, and the first visit by a British royal since William’s father Charles and his wife Camilla came in 2006.
In addition to Islamabad they are set to visit the ancient Mughal capital of Lahore, as well as the mountainous north and the region near the border with Afghanistan in the west.
Kensington Palace has called the trip “the most complex tour undertaken by The Duke and Duchess to date, given the logistical and security considerations.”
The couple are also expected to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was close friends with William’s mother, the late Princess Diana.
“I’ve always been struck by the warmth in Pakistan toward the Royal Family,” British High Commissioner Thomas Drew said in a video published to Twitter late Sunday.

Britain's William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are welcomed as they arrive in Islamabad, Pakistan. (Reuters)

The couple’s program will pay respect to Britain’s historic relationship with Pakistan, once part of colonial India, he said.
“But it will focus largely on showcasing Pakistan as it is today, a dynamic, aspirational, and forward-looking nation,” Drew continued.
They are expected to see Pakistan’s efforts to combat climate change and learn about the “complex security” of the region, among other issues, a statement from Kensington Palace said earlier this month.
Pakistan has waged a long battle with militancy which has seen tens of thousands of people killed in the past 15 or so years.
Charles’ and Camilla’s 2006 trip was tainted when they were forced to pull out of a visit to Peshawar over safety concerns after the military launched an airstrike on a religious school that killed 80 people.
But security has improved dramatically since the army intensified a crackdown on militant groups in 2015, with several countries changing their travel warnings for Pakistan as a result, and Islamabad eager to promote both tourism and foreign investment.
There are promising signs, such as the British Airways return earlier this year after more than a decade, and the slow but steady revival of international cricket.
Analysts have long warned that Pakistan is not yet getting to the root causes of extremism, however, and militants retain the ability to carry out attacks, including in urban areas.
Moments before the couple’s arrival Monday, Qureshi used televised comments to invoke the memory of Diana, who charmed Pakistanis when she visited in her official capacity in 1991.
She also made several private visits in later years to help Khan — then a cricketer-turned-opposition politician married to her friend Jemima — raise money for a cancer hospital in Lahore.
“She is held in very high esteem in Pakistan... We are happy that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are now coming,” Qureshi said.
The visit showed that Pakistan has come out of “difficult times,” he added.
Pakistan was carved out of colonial India to become independent from Britain in 1947, creating an Islamic Republic for the subcontinent’s Muslims.
Britain is home to more than a million people of Pakistani origin, making it the largest Pakistani diaspora community in Europe.