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North Korea conducts its 12th missile test this year

Nov 01,2019
North Korea on Thursday afternoon fired a pair of unidentified short-range projectiles into the East Sea, the 12th time it has conducted a weapons test this year.

According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the rockets were fired at 4:35 p.m. and 4:38 p.m. in the direction of the East Sea from near Sunchon, an inland location in South Pyongan Province. The rockets flew a distance of around 370 kilometers at a maximum altitude of around 90 kilometers, the JCS said.

While the JCS added U.S. and South Korean intelligence were analyzing the test, the fact that the projectiles were launched from a land-based location into the sea may rule out a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which Pyongyang is believed to have tested in its most recent test on Oct. 5.

“Such actions by North Korea do not help alleviate tension on the Korean Peninsula, and we again urge them to immediately halt them,” a JCS spokesperson said.

Japan’s Defense Ministry said the rockets appeared to be ballistic missiles.

Seoul’s presidential office had been convening a regular National Security Council (NSC) meeting headed by Chung Eui-yong, the head of the Blue House National Security Office, when reports of the launch came through.

The Blue House later expressed “strong concern” at the launch of what it said was “short-range projectiles.”

The test came only hours after the Blue House announced North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had sent a message of condolence Wednesday evening to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, whose mother died Tuesday.

But signs of an imminent North Korean weapons test had been apparent since the breakdown of working-level denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington in Stockholm on Oct. 5, which took place just two days after the North’s apparent test of the SLBM known as the Pukguksong-3 from off the coast of Wonsan, Kangwon Province.

In preparation for a contingency, the United States dialed up its monitoring of North Korea, dispatching two U.S. E-8C Joint Stars surveillance aircraft to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, on Oct. 6, followed by an RC-135S Cobra Ball on Oct. 9.

On Tuesday, an RC-135U plane, which specializes in watching ballistic missiles, was also deployed to Japan.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]