And one expert in North Korean affairs, who is also an MEP, fears the episode has exposed US President Joe Biden’s inability to tackle the issue. Pyongyang has been steadily developing its weapons programme amid a standoff over talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals in return for US sanctions relief.
The negotiations have stalled since 2019. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement: “North Korea fired two unidentified ballistic missiles from its central inland region toward the east coast, and intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States are conducting detailed analysis for further information.”
The South Korean military has raised its level of surveillance, and is maintaining a full readiness posture in close cooperation with the United States, the JCS added.
Japan’s Coast Guard also reported an object that could be a ballistic missile was fired from North Korea that landed outside it exclusive economic zone.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called the missile launch “outrageous”, and strongly condemned the action as a threat to peace and security of the region.
Both Suga and South Korean President Moon Jae-in would convene sessions of their national security councils to discuss the launches, according to their offices.
Moon office said he was immediately briefed about the ballistic missile tests, North Korea’s first since March this year and a further breach of UN sanctions.
The latest launch came as foreign ministers of South Korea and China were holding talks in Seoul amid concerns over North Korea’s recent cruise missile test and the stalled denuclearisation negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington.
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North Korea said it successfully tested a new long-range cruise missile last weekend, calling it “a strategic weapon of great significance.” Analysts say that weapon could be the country’s first cruise missile with a nuclear capability.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, when asked about the earlier cruise missile tests, said all parties should work to promote peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.
He told reporters: “Not only North Korea but other countries are carrying out military activity.
“All of us should make efforts in a way that helps resume dialogue.”
Dutch MEP Michiel Hoogeveen, who has visited North Korea on several occasion, told Express.couk: “While I am not worried about whether the DPRK will attack, I am worried about the inability by the Biden administration to address the Korean nuclear issue.
“I believe the Trump administration missed an opportunity to truly strike a deal with Kim Jong-un.
“I believe Pyongyang was willing. However, the Biden administration seems to make the same mistake as was made in the past.
“While Washington expresses willingness to negotiate, I don’t see any concrete steps to be taken in order to initiate dialogue.”
Mr Hoogeveen warned: “I believe for the coming years, North Korea will gradually increase its testing.
Moving away from any deal made in the past.
“The biggest risk in that regard is an unintentional military confrontation that could escalate.”
(More to follow)