SEOUL—North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles off the country’s east coast, Seoul officials said, extending a string of weapons tests that come amid stalled nuclear talks with Washington and a continuing U.S.-South Korea military exercise that has angered Pyongyang.
The early Friday test-firing is Pyongyang’s sixth since July 25. The missiles were launched from the North’s Kangwon province, the first at 8:01 a.m. local time and the second 15 minutes later, Seoul’s military said. The military said they reached a height of about 18 miles and flew 143 miles before splashing into the waters between South Korea and Japan.
Seoul has generally classified the North’s other recent launches as short-range ballistic missiles, as well.
In Washington, a senior administration official said the U.S. is aware of the reports and would continue to monitor the situation. Japanese officials said the missiles didn’t cross into the country’s territory, while South Korea said it would maintain a preparatory position.
President Trump, in a Saturday tweet, said North Korean leader
Kim Jong Un
had signaled in a letter that Pyongyang would stop its weapons tests once the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises end. Those drills are expected to conclude next week. In the three-page letter—which
on Friday had called “really beautiful”—Mr. Kim made a small apology for the short-range missile launches, Mr. Trump tweeted.
Washington and Pyongyang have yet to formally revive nuclear talks despite agreeing to do so at an impromptu meeting between the two leaders on June 30 at the Korea demilitarized zone. Washington had expected formal talks would commence by mid-July but nothing has been scheduled.
The Kim regime, through state media, has repeatedly lashed out over the U.S.-South Korea military exercises that practice a variety of scenarios, including fending off a North Korean attack. The North sees the drills as violating U.S. assurances last year to improve peaceful ties between the two countries.
Washington has taken a lenient stance toward the recent tests of short-range missiles. Pyongyang hasn’t tested a long-range missile since November 2017—a record of restraint held up by the Trump administration as a sign its diplomatic approach is working.
The North’s latest launch came just a day after South Korean President
in a national address, urged Pyongyang to re-engage with the U.S. in working-level talks. North Korean state media responded Friday with an angry rebuke, asserting the North has no desire to talk any longer with South Korean authorities.
“He is, indeed, an impudent guy rare to be found,” it said of Mr. Moon.
—Dasl Yoon in Seoul and Courney McBride in Washington contributed to this article.
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