North Korea fired two more short-range ballistic missiles for the sixth time in three weeks, a U.S. official told Fox News late Thursday.
South Korea‘s Joint Chiefs of Staff said earlier that projectiles were twice launched from an area on the North’s eastern coast, but did not say what the weapons were, how many were launched or how far they flew.
The latest launches extend the rogue nation’s streak of weapons tests, which are believed to be aimed at pressuring Washington and Seoul over slow nuclear diplomacy.
The weapons the North has tested in recent weeks included a new rocket artillery system and what security analysts say are two new short-range mobile ballistic missile systems that would potentially expand the North’s ability to strike targets throughout South Korea, including U.S. bases there.
Experts say President Trump’s downplaying of the North’s launches allowed Pyongyang more room to intensify its testing activity while it seeks to build leverage ahead of a possible resumption of negotiations, which could happen sometime after the end of joint military drills by the U.S. and South Korea later this month.
The North has ignored South Korean calls for dialogue recently and is seen as dialing up the pressure on Seoul to coax major concessions from Washington on its behalf.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff alerted reporters to the launches hours after the North issued a statement berating South Korea, saying it’s “senseless” for Seoul to hope for a resumption of inter-Korean dialogue while it continues its military exercises with the United States.
The statement by the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country came a day after Moon said in a speech that the momentum for dialogue remains alive despite the series of “worrying actions taken by North Korea recently.”
The North had recently said it plans to talk only with Washington and not Seoul, and that inter-Korean dialogue won’t resume unless South offers a “plausible excuse” on why it keeps hosting military drills with the United States.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.