North Korea fires possible submarine-launched ballistic missile

North Korea carries out ninth launch since June, just hours after announcing new talks with United States. North Korea fired at least one missile off its east coast on Wednesday, possibly from a submarine, the South Korean military said, a day after announcing it would resume stalled talks over its nuclear programme with the United States. The National Security Council in Seoul expressed “strong concern” over the launch of what it said may have been a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), according to a statement issued by the presidential Blue House. South Korea’s military said it had detected the launch of a missile that flew 450 kilometres (280 miles) and reached an altitude of 910 kilometres (565 miles).  “At the moment, it seems that one missile was launched and that split into two and fell. We are conducting analysis for details,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular news conference.  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the launch, saying a missile fell into the waters of Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which covers the area as far as 370 kilometres (230 miles) from the coast. The test was a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, Abe said. South Korea’s military said the missile was launched from around Wonsan, the site of one of North Korea’s military bases on the east coast, towards the sea.  North Korea had been developing SLBM technology before it suspended long-range missile and nuclear tests and began talks with the United States that led to the first summit between Kim and Trump in Singapore in June 2018. The launch is the ninth since US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met at the heavily guarded Demilitarised Zone between the two Koreas in June. It came just a day after Pyongyang announced it had agreed with the US to hold working-level talks on Saturday in a development that could potentially break months of stalemate. Talks aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes have been stalled since the second summit between Trump and Kim collapsed in February without a deal. Japan’s  Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said it appeared two missiles were launched within minutes of each other and that the second fell in Japan’s EEZ at 7:27 am local time (22:27 GMT on Tuesday). “We are aware of reports of a possible North Korean missile launch. We are continuing to monitor the situation and consulting closely with our allies in the region,” a senior official in the US administration, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters. Trump has played down North Korea’s recent series of short-range launches, saying in September the US and North Korea “didn’t have an agreement on short-range missiles” and that many countries test such weapons. Hours before the launch, North Korea had announced a return to working-level talks. The previous missile launch – on September 10 – also took place after the North had expressed a willingness to talk. “North Korea has recycled its carrot-and-stick strategy against the US multiple times with great success,” said Lee Sung-yoon, Professor of Korean Studies at The Fletcher School at Tufts University. In a statement released through state media, Choe Son Hui, North Korea’s first vice minister of foreign affairs, said the two nations will have preliminary contact on Friday before holding working-level talks on Saturday. She expressed optimism over the outcome of the meeting but did not say where the talks would take place. “It is my expectation that the working-level negotiations would accelerate the positive development of the DPRK-US relations,” Choe said in the statement, using an abbreviation for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “I can confirm that US and DPRK officials plan to meet within the next week. I do not have further details to share on the meeting,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, who is travelling with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Rome….
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