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North Korea: Missile launch was a 'solemn warning' to South Korea

By Thomas Maresca
North Korea: Missile launch was a 'solemn warning' to South Korea
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 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at an undisclosed location near the East Sea. According to KCNA, the purpose of the drill was to test the precision of large-caliber long-range multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons. Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, July 26 (UPI) -- North Korea said on Friday that it launched a "new-type tactical guided weapon" as a "solemn warning" against South Korea, one day after the communist state fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan.

The launch was "part of the power demonstration to send a solemn warning to the South Korean military warmongers," state-run Korea Central News Agency wrote on Friday, adding that the test "must have given uneasiness and agony" to its intended audience.

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The news agency accused South Korea of introducing "ultramodern offensive weapons" to the Korean Peninsula and continuing to "hold military exercise in defiance of the repeated warnings from the DPRK."

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "personally organized and guided the launch," KCNA reported, and quoted him as saying that it was necessary to "develop nonstop super powerful weapon systems to remove the potential and direct threats to the security of our country that exist in the South."

Kim warned South Korea to stop the "suicidal act" of holding military exercises.

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"The South Korean chief executive should not make a mistake of ignoring the warning from Pyongyang, however offending it may be," KCNA said.

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Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Thursday that the two missiles were fired from the Hodo Peninsula near the eastern coastal town of Wonsan, and flew 267 miles and 420 miles, respectively, both at an altitude of around 31 miles.

The launch comes less than a month after Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump met in the Demilitarized Zone's truce village of Panmunjom, which straddles the border between the two Koreas.

Trump made history at that meeting by briefly crossing into North Korea, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to do so.

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South Korea was quick to respond on Thursday, with the National Security Council tentatively declaring the projectiles a new type of short-range ballistic missile.

The presidential Blue House issued a statement from the NSC to reporters expressing "strong concern that such actions are not helpful to the efforts of alleviating military tensions on the Korean Peninsula."

In a press briefing on Thursday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said that Washington urges "no more provocations" from North Korea and that "all parties should abide by our obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions."

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North Korea's launch of ballistic missiles is a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. However, U.S. officials downplayed the missile tests, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo characterizing them as a negotiating ploy in an appearance on Fox News on Thursday.

"North Korea has engaged in activity before we were having diplomatic conversations far worse than this," he said in an interview. "I think this allows the negotiations to go forward. Lots of countries posture before they come to the table."

Pompeo said that Pyongyang and Washington were still working towards a new round of negotiations, which Kim and Trump agreed to at their June meeting.

"I think we'll be able to pull that off in a handful of weeks," he said.

President Trump also minimized the impact of the new missile tests on Thursday.

"They haven't done nuclear testing," he told Fox News host Sean Hannity. "They really haven't tested missiles other than, you know, smaller ones, which is something that lots test."

The joint U.S.-South Korea Combined Forces Command said on Friday that it assessed the projectiles as a new type of missile from North Korea. However, it said that it wasn't reacting to the launch as a threat.

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"These two short-range ballistic missiles were not a threat directed at the Republic of Korea or the U.S., and have no impact on our defense posture," the CFC said in a statement.

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