North Korea Conducts Second Missile Launch in Less than a Week

FILE - In this March 10, 2016, file photo, a TV screen shows a file footage of the missile launch conducted by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. Three North Korea short range ballistic missiles failed on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, a temporary blow to Pyongyang's …
AP/Ahn Young-joon

The rogue Communist government of North Korea fired two missiles east into the Sea of Japan early Wednesday local time, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) confirmed. The missile launch was the second this week following missile launches last Thursday.

Prior to the current missile tests, Pyongyang had refrained from testing missiles since May.

The United Nations has placed North Korea under strict economic sanctions in response to its illegal nuclear weapons development, which bans ballistic missile activity. The sanctions have rarely stopped Pyongyang from engaging in illegal military activity, though officials have demanded Western countries lift the sanctions and admitted they have profounded affected the remains of North Korea’s economy following over half a century of communism.

South Korea’s JCS told media in the country that they believe the missiles launched Wednesday are short-range ballistic weapons covered by international sanctions. While suggesting they are similar to the weapons believed to have been launched earlier in the week, Seoul’s officials did not confirm the identity of the missiles. The South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo identified the missiles as potentially “domestically produced variants of the Russian-made 9K720 Iskander missile system.” Seoul believes the missiles were launched from a location near Wonsan, a northern beach town that Kim Jong-un has attempted to turn into a tourist destination with help from China.

The July 25 missile launch, according to North Korean media, featured a new model of missile that produced a “satisfactory” launch.

Wednesday’s missiles flew about 155 miles before collapsing into the Sea of Japan (the East Sea in Korea).

South Korea responded with a stern condemnation of the belligerent activity. The country’s National Security Council (NSC) held an emergency meeting to respond to the developments.

“The NSC members voiced strong concerns that North Korea’s launches of two short-range ballistic missiles could have a negative impact on efforts to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula,” South Korea’s presidential palace, Cheong Wa Dae, said in a statement following the meeting, according to South Korean news service Yonhap.

South Korea’s JSC also issued a statement saying the missiles “do not help alleviate tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and we urge them [North Korea] to cease such actions.”

Seoul emphasized, however, that it would continue pursuing diplomacy with North Korea for the moment.

Pyongyang has yet to confirm the latest missile launches. Last weekend, the North Korean state propaganda apparatus identified the missiles launched last Thursday as a “new-type tactical guided weapon” necessary given the “annoying situation” with South Korea. Rodong Sinmun, the government newspaper, accused leftist President Moon Jae-in of “strange double-dealing behavior” by continuing to maintain the South Korean military, making Kim’s new missiles necessary.

North and South Korea have been at war since 1950. As neither side – North Korea and China on one, South Korea and America on the other – ever signed a peace treaty, the war technically continues to this day, though the parties signed an armistice agreement in 1953 that ended active hostilities. North Korea spent much of this week celebrating the signing of the armistice agreement in a holiday it calls

“Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War,” misinterpreting the armistice agreement as surrender.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea’s state-run news service, highlighted musical performances to honor the cult of the Kim family this week featuring songs titled “Cantata to Marshal Kim Il-Sung,” the founder of communist North Korea, and “Off We Go, Brindled Ox.” Kim Jong-un also reportedly visited the “Fatherland Liberation War Martyrs Cemetery” to honor North Korean soldiers who died in the Korea War, which Pyongyang refers to as the “Fatherland Liberation War.”

North Korea’s regime claims to have liberated itself from imperial powers in the Korean War along with South Korea. It does not recognize South Korea’s sovereignty, instead addressing it as a rogue province despite its superior military, economic development, and political system.

Wednesday’s missile launch followed the imposition of new sanctions on North Korea out of Washington. The U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned Kim Su-il, a North Korean economic official, on Monday for allegedly violating sanctions and attempting to enrich the regime through trade with communist Vietnam.

“As of early 2019, Kim Su-il was responsible for exporting anthracite coal, titanium ore concentrate and other North Korean domestic products; importing and exporting various other goods, including raw materials, to and from North Korea; and ship chartering,” Treasury said in a statement announcing the sanctions. “This trade activity earned foreign currency for the North Korean regime.”

“Treasury continues to enforce existing sanctions against those who violate United Nations Security Council resolutions … and evade U.S. sanctions on North Korea’s unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” the agency added.

Regarding Wednesday’s missile launches, the U.S. State Department, which is currently planning diplomatic engagements with North Korea following last month’s in-person meeting between President Donald Trump and dictator Kim Jong-un, told Yonhap that they “will continue to monitor the situation,” but added no further details.

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