North Korea has launched another ballistic missile in an apparent test flight of about 700 kilometers that ended in the Sea of Japan.
The rocket launch came just days after a new president took over in South Korea with a pledge to engage in dialogue with Pyongyang.
South Korea said the missile was launched Sunday morning from a base near Kusong City. It dropped into the sea between the eastern coast of North Korea and the western coast of Japan.
Japan issued a strong protest immediately after the launch, declaring North Korea’s repeated missile tests are a grave threat to its neighbors and a clear violation of U.N. resolutions. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo would remain in close touch with the U.S. and South Korea about developments in North Korea.
In Hawaii, the U.S. Pacific Command confirmed the rocket launch, adding that the unidentified projectile did not appear to be large enough to be an intercontinental ballistic missile — a weapon that North Korea claims it is developing.
In Washington, White House officials said President Donald Trump had been briefed about the North Korean launch. There was no immediate U.S. statement.
Suggestion of talks
Just one day earlier, a senior North Korean diplomat said Pyongyang would be willing to talk with the United States about the two countries’ disputes, under the right conditions.
Choe Son Hui, the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s director general for U.S. affairs, raised the issue of talks when she spoke with reporters in Beijing while returning home from a trip to Norway.
“We’ll have dialogue if the conditions are there,” Choe said, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. While in Oslo, Choe met with American academics and former U.S. officials.
After another diplomatic crisis last month triggered by North Korean missile tests, Trump warned there was a possible “major, major conflict” brewing with Pyongyang, but said he hoped for a diplomatic solution to the dispute over the North’s nuclear and missile programs. The U.S. president later said he would be willing to meet with the North’s leader, Kim Jong UN, under the right circumstances.
Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s new president, said in Seoul this week that he also would be willing to travel to North Korea for talks if conditions permitted. Moon is expected to take a less antagonistic line toward North Korea than his predecessors.
In the aftermath of the latest North Korean missile launch, meanwhile, American, European and Japanese military units gathered for war games in a group of remote U.S. islands in the Pacific Ocean. The exercises are meant to warn North Korea not to test the allies’ military might.