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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

After Test, South Korea Urges North to Stop Raising Tensions

By William Gallo May 04, 2019

South Korea called on North Korea to stop raising military tensions, after the North fired a barrage of projectiles into the sea off the east coast of Korea.

In a statement, a South Korean presidential spokesperson said the tests go against a September military agreement it signed with North Korea. Seoul said it expects Pyongyang to resume dialogue as soon as possible.

North Korea fired the barrage of projectiles from the eastern town of Wonsan into the sea off Korea's east coast just after 9:00 a.m. local time, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

It is North Korea's latest provocation following the breakdown of nuclear talks with the United States.

President Donald Trump said Saturday he still believes a deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will happen. Taking to Twitter, Trump said Kim "fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea, & will do nothing to interfere or end it." Trump added about Kim, "He also knows that I am with him & does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen."

Earlier, South Korean officials described the projectiles as missiles. No other details about the weapons were immediately available, but a short-range missile test would not violate international sanctions on North Korea's missile program.

North Korea has not commented on the test.

​Skirting his moratorium

Since November 2017, Kim has observed a self-imposed moratorium on missile tests.

Testing a short-range ballistic missile "might skirt the line" on that moratorium, says Vipin Narang, a nuclear expert and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"Kim has stated (the moratorium) only applies to ICBMs, while the U.S. believes it applies more broadly," Narang says. "It's enough to signal slightly greater concern but giving the U.S. an out if it wants to, to dismiss it as not a violation of the moratorium."

After the launch, President Trump was "fully briefed" by National Security Adviser John Bolton, according to a senior administration official.

"We are aware of North Korea's actions tonight. We will continue to monitor as necessary," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

Measured escalation

North Korea, which wants sanctions relief from the U.S., has carried out a series of measured escalations since nuclear talks with the U.S. broke down.

Most notably, the North said last month it conducted a test of a tactical guided weapon. It has also threatened to respond to U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said he will give the U.S. until the end of the year to become more flexible in nuclear talks.

Trump has said he will not relax sanctions until North Korea commits to giving up its entire nuclear weapons program.

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