U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been hoping to revive denuclearization talks with North Korea, played down the launches when asked about them at the White House, telling reporters he was not worried as they were short-range missiles and “very standard” and he was still open to negotiations.
South Korea’s military said unidentified short-range projectiles were fired at 2:59 a.m. and 3:23 a.m. local time on Friday, from North Korea’s South Hamgyong Province into the East Sea.
“We are monitoring the situation in case of additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture,” South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted the country’s joint chiefs of staff as saying.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least one projectile was detected that did not pose a threat to North America, although there could have been multiple projectiles.
North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles early on Wednesday, only days after it launched two similar missiles on July 25. The tests have come despite a June 30 meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Trump at which they agreed to revive stalled talks.
Trump was asked at the White House before setting off for a campaign trip to Ohio if he thought Kim was testing him by carrying out what appeared to be a third missile test in recent days.
“I think it’s very much under control, very much under control,” he told reporters, adding that the launches did not violate Kim’s promises to him.
They were “short-range missiles,” Trump said. “We never made an agreement on that. I have no problem. We’ll see what happens. But these are short-range missiles. They are very standard.”
Asked if he could still negotiate with Kim, he replied:
“Oh, sure, sure. Because these are short-range missiles. We never discussed that. We discussed nuclear. What we talked about is nuclear. Those are short-range missiles. sure, and a lot of other countries test that kind of missile also.”
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