North Korea Test-Fires 7th Ballistic Missile Of 2017
On the eve of a summit in Beijing, and just hours after Pyongyang's chief nuclear negotiator said North Korea is ready to hold talks with the United States "if the conditions are mature", South Korea's Yonhap reports that North Korea has fired a projectile believed to be a ballistic missile, from a region named Kusong located northwest of Pyongyang, where the North previously test-launched its intermediate-range missile.
The nature of the projectile was not immediately clear, a South Korean military official told Reuters.
The ballistic missile firing is North Korea’s seventh this year.
The launch comes just hours after The South China Morning Post reports Choe Son-hui, head of the North Korea's Foreign Ministry's North America bureau, offered the assurance in the Chinese capital after an informal meeting in Norway with Thomas Pickering, a former US ambassador to the United Nations.
"If conditions are mature, we will hold dialogue with the Donald Trump administration," she said.
Choe made the remarks just days after Trump said he would be willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "under the right circumstances".
But the comments also came as the US embassy in Beijing told China's foreign ministry that North Korea's attendance at the top-level gathering for the "Belt and Road Initiative" could send the wrong message as the world was trying to pressure Pyongyang over its repeated missile and nuclear tests. The foreign ministry said Beijing welcomed the participation of all countries in the summit.
South Korea's Yonhap News confirms North Korea has fired what appears to be a ballistic missile from its west coast, the South Korean military reported early Sunday. The launch would be the first in two weeks since the last attempt to fire a missile ended in a failure just minutes into flight. It would also be the first launch since a new, liberal president took office in South Korea on Wednesday saying dialogue as well as pressure must be used to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and stop the North's weapons pursuit. The new president Moon has said he is willing to engage in dialogue with his northern neighbor.
Weapons experts and government officials, cited by Reuters, "believe the North has accomplished some technical progress with those tests."
South Korean Military has now confirmed it was a ballistic missile that flew 700 km.
The Japanese government confirms the missile flew 30 minutes and landed in The Sea of Japan.
Kim claimed in January to be in the final stages of preparations to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile, and has since launched several intermediate-range projectiles with varying degrees of success.
The action provides an early test for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who came to office on May 10 saying he would visit Pyongyang under the “right circumstances” to bring peace to the peninsula. Moon convened a meeting of the national security council Sunday morning, according to the Presidential Blue House.
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Today's launch should not be a total surprise: In a interview earlier in the week with by Sky News, in response to a question "is a sixth nuclear test now imminent", the answer of the North Korean Ambassador to the UK, Choe Il was "In regards to the sixth nuclear test, I do not know the scheduled time for it, as I am here in the UK, not in my home country. However, I can say that the nuclear test will be conducted at the place and time as decided by our supreme leader, Kim Jong-Un."
Asked if he is afraid of a possible US military response, the ambassador answers that "we are developing our nuclear strength to respond to that kind of attack by the US. If the US attacks us, our military and people are fully ready to respond to any kind of attack. I do not think the US are considering a military attack against us."
Asked what would North Korea's response be to a preemptive strike, he answer that:"The US cannot attack us first. If the US moves an inch, then we are ready to turn to ashes any available strategic assets of the US."