North Korea has test-fired a short-range missile, South Korea said Saturday, in what appears to be Pyongyang’s latest small-scale provocation following the breakdown of nuclear talks.
North Korea fired the missile toward the east from the eastern town of Wonsan just after 9 a.m. local time, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
No other details about the missile were immediately available, but a short-range missile would not violate international sanctions on North Korea’s missile program.
North Korea has not commented on the test.
‘Skirt the line’ of moratorium
Since November 2017, North Korean leader Kim JongUn has observed a self-imposed moratorium on missile tests.
Testing a short-range ballistic missile “might skirt the line” on that moratorium, says Vipin Narang, a nuclear expert and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Kim has stated (the moratorium) only applies to ICBMs, while the U.S. believes it applies more broadly,” Narang said. “It’s enough to signal slightly greater concern but giving the U.S. an out if it wants to, to dismiss it as not a violation of the moratorium.”
North Korea, which wants sanctions relief from the U.S., has carried out a series of measured escalations since nuclear talks with the U.S. broke down.
Most notably, the North said last month it conducted a test of a tactical guided weapon. It has also threatened to respond to U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises.
North Korean leader Kim JongUn has said he will give the U.S. until the end of the year to become more flexible in nuclear talks.
U.S. President Donald Trump has said he will not relax sanctions until North Korea commits to giving up its entire nuclear weapons program.