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North Korea missiles 'similar yet different' to Russia's Iskander, Seoul says

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea missiles 'similar yet different' to Russia's Iskander, Seoul says
This image released on May 5, 2019, by the North Korean Official News Service (KCNA), shows a rocket being launched in a "strike drill" supervised by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo

June 2 (UPI) -- South Korea's defense minister said Sunday the projectiles North Korea launched on May 9 are likely "very similar" to the Russian Iskander, a short-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile.

Speaking to reporters gathered for the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Jeong Kyeong-doo said the missiles North Korea launched from Kusong bear resemblance to Russian missiles, but also show "a degree of variation in other areas," South Korean news service MoneyToday reported.

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Jeong said the missiles North Korea tested on May 4 and May 9 are similar variants.

The top South Korean defense official also said at the annual Asian security forum North Korea is threatening to return to the past, after walking away from nuclear talks in February.

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Kim Jong Un last met with President Donald Trump in Hanoi, but the summit ended without a deal. Experts worry the collapsed talks could mean Kim could be returning to an old pattern of provocations.

Within the Trump administration, officials are in disagreement about the nature of the tests.

Trump has said North Korea tests are not a violation of international law, but last week U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said they are a violation of United Nations resolutions.

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"Let me just be clear: These were short-range missiles. Those are a violation of the UNSCR," Shanahan said, according to CNN.

On Sunday, Shanahan made bold assertions about the United States' role in the Indo-Pacific, Singapore's Straits Times reported.

"We are a Pacific nation. We are a resident power, with deep economic, cultural, and personal connections that inextricably link us with the growth and vitality of the world's most dynamic region," the U.S. defense official said.

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According to Straits Times, Shanahan also criticized China and said it subverted the rules-based order in the region.

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