Flashpoints

North Korea confirms 2nd test of multiple rocket launcher

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Wednesday leader Kim Jong Un observed the test-launch of a super-large multiple rocket launcher, the latest in a series of weapons tests performed amid stalled diplomacy over the North’s nuclear program.

Tuesday's rocket launcher test was made hours after North Korea said it was willing to resume nuclear negotiations with the United States in late September. While offering talks, North Korea still warned its dealings with the U.S. may end if Washington fails to come to the negotiating table without new acceptable proposals.

Some experts said North Korea aims to wrest concessions from the United States once their diplomacy resumes.

In this June 30, 2019, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea. (Susan Walsh/AP)
North Korea fires projectiles after offering talks with US

North Korea launched two unidentified projectiles into the sea on Tuesday, South Korea's military said, hours after the North offered to resume nuclear diplomacy with the United States in late September.

The North's Korean Central News Agency said Kim, accompanied by top military and ruling Workers' Party officials, supervised the two rounds of test-firings at an unidentified place on Tuesday.

It was the second known test of a super-large multiple rocket launcher that North Korea says is needed to cope with outside military threats. The first test of the weapon occurred on Aug. 24.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a site where a multiple rocket launcher was tested Sept. 10, 2019, at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a site where a multiple rocket launcher was tested Sept. 10, 2019, at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Tuesday's test fulfilled its purpose and allowed authorities to decide "the next-stage orientation to complete the weapon system," KCNA said. It quoted Kim as saying what remains to be done is "running fire test."

Tuesday's weapons test was the eighth round of launches by North Korea since late July. Other weapons tested include at least three other newly developed short-range missile and rocket artillery systems that experts say would potentially expand its capabilities to strike targets throughout South Korea. South Korea's military said the two North Korean projectiles fired Tuesday flew about 330 kilometers (205 miles) in the direction of the waters off the North's east coast.

U.S. special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun talks with his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon during their meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, August 21, 2019. (Kim Hong-Ji/Pool via AP)
US says it’s ready to resume nuclear talks with North Korea

The United States is ready to restart nuclear negotiations with North Korea, a senior U.S. diplomat said Wednesday, a day after U.S. and South Korean militaries ended their regular drills that North Korea calls an invasion rehearsal.

U.S.-led diplomacy aimed at stripping North Korea of nuclear weapons collapsed after the second summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in Vietnam in February ended without any agreement due to disputes over U.S.-led sanctions on the North. Kim and Trump met again at a Korean border village in late June and agreed to resume talks.

The North Korean weapons tested in the past weeks were all short-range, and the country is still keeping its promise not to carry out nuclear and long-range missile tests. This suggests North Korea is trying to maintain the momentum for dialogue with the United States, experts say.

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