Nuclear-armed North Korea testing missiles despite Trump outreach

On Thursday, the nuclear-armed North Korea carried out its fourth ballistic missile launch in recent weeks, but it was unclear how many projectiles were involved.

Two U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity,said that initial information indicated the missile launch was similar to previous tests carried out by Pyongyang, but one of them said it did not pose a threat to North America.

The news agency said North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles early on Wednesday, and two similar launches on July 25.

The official Korean Central News Agency said that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed satisfaction after overseeing the successful test of “a newly developed large-caliber multiple launch guided rocket system on July 31.”

The test “scientifically confirmed that the tactical data and technical characteristics” of the new system had “reached the numerical values of its design, and verified the combat effectiveness of the overall system,” said the North Korean news agency.

Kim was quoted as saying the rocket system would play a “main role” in North Korea’s land combat operations and cause “inescapable distress to the forces becoming a fat target of the weapon.”

North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump held the first-ever meeting between leaders of the two countries on June 12, 2018 at the Capella Hotel, Sentosa, Singapore.

After making history as the first sitting U.S. president to visit North Korea when he met with the dictator at the DMZ on June 30, 2019, and briefly crossed the border into North Korea, Trump said, “The relationship that we have developed has meant so much to many people and it was just an honor to be with you. And it was an honor that you asked me to step over that line. And I was proud to step over that line.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday expressed hope that stalled talks between the U.S. and North Korea aimed at lifting international sanctions on Pyongyang in exchange for denuclearization would soon resume.

The four missile tests between May 4 and July 31 strongly suggest that diplomacy has failed to curb North Korea’s appetite for developing new weapons capabilities.

Also on Thursday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said a defecting North Korean soldier crossed the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone near the Imjin River.

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