North Korea launched two unidentified projectiles off its east coast early Thursday morning, an act that’s sure to once again escalate tensions as President Donald Trump attempts to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
“Our military is monitoring the situation in case of additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement, according to that country’s Yonhap News.
The South Korean military said that the projectiles flew about 267 miles before crashing into the water between North Korea and Japan. It has not yet released any additional details about the projectiles, as U.S. and South Korean officials are still investigating what happened. North Korea usually remains tight-lipped about its military efforts.
North Korea last tested what appeared to be similar projectiles on May 9. Military experts determined that they were likely short-range ballistic missiles.
Earlier this week, the North’s state-run news agency released photos of the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, inspecting a massive new submarine that experts fear may be able to carry a nuclear or ballistic missile of some kind. The photos were largely seen as a message to the international community that Kim was growing frustrated with Trump’s efforts to negotiate.
Diplomacy between the U.S. and North Korea had largely floundered this year after a failed February summit in Vietnam didn’t produce any agreement on denuclearization. Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to step into North Korea during an impromptu meeting with Kim at the Demilitarized Zone in June. At the time, Trump said he would reopen lower-level talks with the other nation. But those discussions have not taken place.
Also last month, North Korea suggested that it was considering lifting its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and ballistic missile tests, which began more than a year and a half ago. The Foreign Ministry’s statement said the government was unhappy with upcoming joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea.
Trump has continued to hype his own efforts to bring the North to the negotiating table, saying this week that he still had a “very good relationship” with Kim.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.