North Korea fired missiles into the sea off its east coast for the fourth time in less than two weeks, South Korea said on Tuesday, as Pyongyang warned that hostile moves against it “have reached the danger line.”
The North, criticising the U.S.-South Korean drills and their use of high-tech weapons, has fired a series of missiles and rockets since its leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed at a June 30 meeting to revive stalled denuclearisation talks.
North Korea has said it is committed to diplomacy and it will wait until the end of the year for the United States to soften its policy of sanctions and political pressure over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.
But if Washington and Seoul disregard North Korea’s repeated warnings, “we will make them pay (a) heavy price,” a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement released through state news agency KCNA.
Trump has played down the tests by saying they did not break any agreement he had with Kim but the talks have yet to resume. Analysts believe the tests are designed both to improve North Korean military capabilities and to pressure Washington to offer more concessions.
“Part of what’s happening now is that North Korea is expressing frustrations with a general lack of progress on inter-Korean agenda while increasing leverage in U.S.-North Korea negotiations by demonstrating how its programs could and will continue to advance,” said Jenny Town, managing editor at 38 North, a website that tracks North Korea.