An unidentified projectile was fired at 4:30 p.m. in western Pyongbuk province (Sino-ri area), South Korea’s military reporting that it was launched by North Korea. This complicates the peace talks with South Korea and also the negotiations with the US.
According to the analysis on the Beyond Parallel program (Center for Strategic and International Studies), Sino-ri is where nearly 20 undeclared missile facilities operate.
The recent launches come after less than a week when they tested other new weapons systems. The North Korean state media admitted that the launches over the past weekend were part of “strike drill” where they checked “the operating ability of large-caliber long-range multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons.”
Negotiations To Be Affected By North Korea’s Recent Strike Drills
However, CNN cited different opinions from weapon experts that analyzed the images from Saturday’s launch. For example, Michael Elleman, who is a missile defense expert (International Institute for Strategic Studies) noted in his report on 38 North that the weapon was very similar to Iskander, a Russian ballistic missile.
Even though it wasn’t an Russian-like ballistic missile, analysts worry that these many tests could negatively affect the nuclear negotiations with South Korea and the United States.
In order to alleviate the military tensions between North and South Korea, US and South Korea agreed to scale back the military exercises. North Korea began opposing the recent drills between the US and South Korea but after a test pause that allowed negotiations between Seoul, Pyongyang and Washington, it started a new round of launches.
Trump let North Korea know his position on drills before the February summit with Kim:
“I’m not in a rush, I don’t want to rush anybody, I just don’t want testing. As long as there’s no testing, we’re happy.”
According to CNN, the diplomat Stephen Biegun arrived in Seul on May 8 and should meet South Korean diplomats this week.