Seoul: North Korea fires two ballistic short-range missiles

Seoul - By Thomas Cronenberg and Dirk Godder, dpa - North Korea fired two ballistic short-range missiles towards the East Sea on Saturday, the South Korean military's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) confirmed in Seoul.

The JCS said that two presumed short-range ballistic missiles flew over the country after their launch in the west of North Korea and then plunged into the water off its eastern coast.

They flew about 410 kilometres at an altitude of up to 50 kilometres, according to the JCS. Experts suspect that North Korea tested a new solid-fuel rocket propulsion system, as it had already done last year.
Pyongyang previously launched projectiles on March 2 and 9.
The launches mark a return to missile testing for North Korea after a three-month pause.
South Korea's military leadership called the actions "very inappropriate" in times when the world was struggling with the coronavirus pandemic and urged North Korea to stop its military actions "immediately."
The rogue nuclear nation is banned from testing ballistic missiles by UN resolutions, and has been slapped with tough international sanctions to deter it from continuing to develop rockets that could be equipped with nuclear warheads.
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a meeting of the country's national security council, the Kyodo news agency reported.
North Korea's parliament meanwhile announced that the spring plenary session of the Supreme People's Assembly is to take place on April 10, the North's KCNA news agency reported.
The session takes place as North Korea further tightened its borders to prevent the novel coronavirus taking hold in the country. North Korea has not reported any confirmed infections.
The parliament usually only meets once a year and mainly rubber stamps decisions made by the ruling Workers' Party.
Global concerns about North Korea intensified late in 2019 after Pyongyang imposed a year-end deadline for the United States to offer sanctions relief and threatened to send a "Christmas gift," widely interpreted to mean a weapons test, if demands were not met.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un said the world would see a "new strategic weapon" from the country in the near future, in a message on January 1.
The Trump administration is demanding that North Korea give up all its nuclear weapons and production facilities in exchange for the lifting of crippling sanctions.
Trump famously said in 2018 that he and Kim "fell in love" and that the North Korean letter wrote him "beautiful letters."
But after two high-profile one-on-one summits and a meeting last year at the Demilitarized Zone, relations have soured with the nuclear talks near-frozen and Pyongyang once again referring to Trump as a "dotard," among other insults.
Relations between North and South Korea which had warmed significantly in the run-up to the two summits between Trump and KIm, have also cooled again recently.

Saturday, March 21st 2020
By Thomas Cronenberg and Dirk Godder, dpa

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