N Korea fires missile days before resuming US talks

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea fired a ballistic missile from the sea yesterday, South Korea’s military said, a suggestion that it may have tested an underwater-launched missile for the first time in three years ahead of a resumption of nuclear talks with the United States (US) this weekend.

The North Korea missile flew about 450 kilometres at a maximum altitude of 910 kilometres after lift-off from an unspecified place in the waters off the North’s eastern coastal town of Wonsan, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. South Korean and US intelligence authorities were analysing details of the launch, it said.

Japan lodged an immediate protest against North Korea, saying the missile landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone. If confirmed, it would be the first North Korean missile that has landed that close to Japan since November 2017.

The US State Department said it calls on North Korea “to refrain from provocations, abide by their obligations under United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions, and remain engaged in substantive and sustained negotiations to do their part to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and achieve denuclearisation.”

South Korean military officials wouldn’t officially disclose whether the missile was fired from a submarine, a barge or another possible platform. But during an emergency National Security Council meeting, council members placed weight on the possibility that North Korea performed a submarine-launched missile test and expressed “strong concerns” over the North Korean move, according to South Korea’s presidential office.

Missiles launched from sub-marines are harder to detect in advance. Some experts say North Korea is attempting to raise the stakes and ramp up pressure on the US before their nuclear negotiators meet on Saturday.

A woman watches a television news screen showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul. North Korea fired two missiles into the sea yesterday, a day after Washington and Pyongyang announced they would resume stalled nuclear talks later this week. PHOTO: AFP