North Korea launched two unidentified projectiles Thursday, according to South Korean officials, in what appeared to be the country's latest missile test as it plays diplomatic chicken with Washington. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has warned his regime will abandon all efforts to negotiate a nuclear disarmament deal with the U.S. by the end of this year unless the Trump administration makes major concessions.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said two short-range projectiles were launched Thursday afternoon from North Korea's east coast toward the East Sea, in the direction of Japan.
Japan's Defense Ministry said "what appears to be a ballistic missile" fired by the North did not reach the country's territory. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a televised news conference that no projectiles had entered Japan's airspace or "exclusive economic zone" at sea. The Japanese defense ministry said it would continue to analyze information as it became available "in order to protect the lives and assets of the people."
Jeon Dong-jin, director of operations for the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said at a news conference that the country's military had "detected two short-range projectiles, assumed to be from a large multiple rocket launcher (MRL), which North Korea fired towards the East Sea."
Jeon called the launches "unhelpful for efforts to ease tension on the Korean peninsula" and said the South Korean military "expresses strong regret and urges the North to stop any action raising military tension."
Thewas October 31, when the country launched two missiles from a new "super-large" multiple rocket launcher, which it said had expanded its ability to destroy enemy targets in surprise attacks.
North Korea has carried out 13 weapons tests so far this year.
The latest launches extend a months-long streak of weapons displays by the North, which continues to use ato advance its military capabilities while pressuring Washington for concessions.
On Monday, North Korea said Kim visited a front-line islet and ordered artillery troops there to practice firing near the country's sea boundary with South Korea. The area has seen several bloody naval clashes between the Koreas in past years. South Korea immediately protested against the drills, saying they violated an agreement last year aimed at lowering military animosity.
North Korea has for weeks been stepping up pressure on the U.S. to meet the year-end deadline set by the North to offer a new initiative to salvage the nuclear diplomacy. Some experts say North Korea may resume testing long-range missiles and nuclear devices if the United States fails to meet the deadline.
The nuclear negotiations broke down in February when President Trump rejected Kim's demands for major sanctions relief in return for partial disarmament.