Korea Launches Missiles, US Seizes Ship for Violating Sanctions

The South's Joint Chiefs of Staff had no other immediate details of Thursday's launch

The North had not launched any since November 2017, shortly before leader Kim Jong-un embarked on diplomatic overtures. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, which identifies remains of USA service members, has suspended the efforts.

North Korea says the test was part of its regular military training.

"We are assessing possible next steps in resuming communications with [North Korea] to plan for potential joint recovery operations to be scheduled during fiscal year 2020", he said. "But I don't think they are ready to negotiate".

He went on to note that "after Kim Jong-un supervised its development, in November a year ago and this April, the rocket was launched and flew 240 km from Hodo [on the coast of the Sea of Japan]".

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Following the collapse of the Trump-Kim meeting, North Korea demanded that South Korea proceed with joint economic projects that have been held back by US -led sanctions against the North.

"We have strengthened surveillance and vigilance in case of an additional missile launch by the North", the JCS said in a statement.

And even if the North refrains from more serious violations, a prolonged campaign of testing short-range missiles would "erode trust" and complicate negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington, the Eurasia Group said in a report.

Within the 20-minute span of North Korea's most recent test, however, the US also launched a nuclear-capable Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) some 4,000 miles from the California coast toward the Marshall Islands in the middle of the Pacific.

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Thursday's missiles were fired from Kusong, northwest of the capital Pyongyang. Meanwhile, Japan insists North Korea's latest missile launch has violated the UN's ban on such weapons tests.

A file shot provided by the North Korea government shows a test of weapon systems.

The increased tensions come amid a gridlock in dialogue after the second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump collapsed over U.S. demands for Pyongyang's nuclear disarmament and Kim's demands for relief from sanctions.

The launches are believed to have marked North Korea's first ballistic missile test in more than 500 days.

South Korean officials said the weapons launched on Thursday traveled 420 kilometers and 270 kilometers before falling into the sea. "To South Korea, the North is saying the inter-Korean peace agreements could become nothing if Seoul fails to coax major concessions from the United States on behalf of the North".

North Korea has repeatedly denounced USA -led sanctions aimed at pressing it to give up its nuclear weapons and the mood will not have been lightened by the ship seizure announced on Thursday, the first by the United States of a North Korean cargo vessel for violating sanctions.

The 17,000 ton ship, called the "Wise Honest", was caught carrying North Korean coal for export - in direct defiance of global sanctions.

North Korea wants widespread sanctions relief in return for disarmament steps that the USA has apparently seen as insufficient. North Korea has since fired off multiple projectiles over the last few weeks.

Since the second summit, tensions between the two countries have risen again.

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