SEOUL, September 1 -- A senior North Korean diplomat said Saturday the expectation that dialogue with the United States will resume is "gradually disappearing" after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the country's behavior as "rogue."
"Pompeo has gone so far in his language and it made the opening of the expected DPRK-U.S. working-level negotiations more difficult," First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency, using the acronym for North Korea's official name. "We are being pushed to re-examine all the measures we have taken so far," Choe said. Pompeo said in a speech to a veterans organization Tuesday that Pyongyang's "rogue behavior could not be ignored." North Korea, meanwhile, has notified the United Nations that the nation's ambassador-level official will deliver a speech at the upcoming U.N. General Assembly, a source close to the matter said, indicating Pyongyang may cancel Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho's participation. Ri's potential absence from the U.N. gathering, scheduled to be held in New York in late September, would deprive Pompeo of a chance to make contact with his North Korean counterpart. At their June 30 meeting at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjeom, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed that Washington and Pyongyang would resume stalled denuclearization talks within weeks, but they have yet to take place. Instead, North Korea has repeatedly launched new weapons in recent months. Last Saturday, it fired two projectiles believed to be short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, in Pyongyang's seventh round of such launches since July 25.
SEOUL, August 24 -- North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on Saturday morning, the Japanese government said, with the launch coming a day after Seoul informed Tokyo of its decision to scrap a bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact.
South Korea's military said North Korea fired what were believed to be short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off its eastern coast from Sondok in South Hamgyong Province in Pyongyang's seventh round of such launches since July 25. The missiles, fired at 6:45 a.m. and 7:02 a.m., flew about 380 kilometers at a top speed of Mach 6.5 and reached a maximum altitude of about 97 km, Yonhap News Agency quoted the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff as saying. The missiles were unlikely to have landed in Japan's territory or exclusive economic zone, according to the Japanese government. The country's Defense Ministry said the two missiles flew some 350 km and 400 km, respectively. Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya criticized the launches as "a clear violation" of U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban Pyongyang from testing such missiles. Tokyo has already lodged a stern protest against North Korea over the missile firings, Japan's parliamentary vice foreign minister Kiyoto Tsuji told ruling party lawmakers Saturday. However, U.S. President Donald Trump downplayed the latest launches, saying Washington and Pyongyang have a really good relationship and that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been "pretty straight with me."
SEOUL, August 16 -- North Korea fired two unidentified projectiles into the Sea of Japan early Friday, South Korea's military said, in its sixth round of such launches in just over three weeks.
The projectiles were launched around 8:01 a.m. and 8:16 a.m. from Tongcheon County in Gangwon Province, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. They both flew about 230 kilometers, reaching a maximum altitude of about 30 kilometers and flying at a top speed of Mach 6.1, the JCS said in a statement, adding that South Korean and U.S. authorities are analyzing the specification of the projectiles. It was the sixth launch of projectiles by the country since July 25, with the previous one occurring on Saturday when it fired what were believed to be short-range ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan. South Korea's National Security Director Chung Eui Yong held an emergency meeting with his council members, where they urged North Korea to stop such moves as they could escalate military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The latest launches are likely another warning against a South Korea-U.S. joint military drill that started last week and runs through late this month. The Japanese government said that it has not confirmed any projectiles flying into Japan's exclusive economic zone and that the projectiles posed no immediate security threat. "We will do all we can to ensure the safety of the people by working closely with the United States among others," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters after North Korea's latest launches. Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said, "The advancement of missile-related technology by North Korea is a very serious issue for the entire region and the international community. We will take all possible measures toward vigilance and surveillance."
North Korea did not immediately comment on the latest launches. However, earlier in the day, a North Korean state organ issued a statement harshly criticizing South Korean President Moon Jae In's appeal for inter-Korean cooperation and dialogue in a speech the previous day. A spokesperson for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, a body that manages Inter-Korean relations, said in the statement Pyongyang has "nothing to talk any more with the south Korean authorities," according to the Korean Central News Agency. "Even at this moment, there go on in south Korea joint military exercises against the DPRK. Does he have any face to talk about dialogue atmosphere, peaceful economy and peace-keeping mechanism," the statement said, reiterating the leadership's criticism of the exercises. DPRK is the acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
SEOUL, August 10 -- North Korea has fired two unidentified projectiles into the sea off eastern coast on Saturday, Yonhap news agency reported citing South Korea's military.
South Korea's defense ministry said it is closely following the developments. No further details are available at this point. On August 6, North Korea launched new guided missiles under the supervision of leader Kim Jong-un. The two missiles flew around 450 km and struck targets in the Sea of Japan. After test launches, Kim Jong-un said that this was "a warning over joint military drills" held by South Korea and the United States. On August 5, the United States and South Korea started joint military drills. According to preliminary reports, the military exercise will last until August 20.
"This is a serious issue for the international community," Japanese Senior Vice Defense Minister Kenji Harada told reporters after the launches. North Korea's missile launch would constitute a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions banning the country from using ballistic technology. South Korean military officials and the defense minister held an emergency meeting after the latest launches and took them to be another warning against a South Korea-U.S. joint military drill that started from Monday and runs through late this month. The North's official Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday that its launches a day earlier were a "warning" to the United States and South Korea over their ongoing joint military exercises. U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday he received a "beautiful" letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in which he said he does not like conducting the short-range ballistic missile tests North Korea has been doing in recent weeks but justified the move as a response to the U.S.-South Korea drills. The U.S. president said on Aug. 1 he was not worried about the missiles being tested by the North, calling them "very standard," short-range devices. "Short-range missiles, we never made an agreement on that. I have no problem. We'll see what happens," Trump told reporters after North Korea carried out a series of missile launches. South Korean and U.S authorities are currently working on identifying the exact type of the projectiles, said the JCS, while warning that additional launches are highly likely as North Korea is now conducting summer military drills. The Japanese government said Saturday that it has not confirmed any ballistic missiles flying into Japan's exclusive economic zone and that the projectiles posed no immediate security threat. Even so, "we will strengthen our air and missile defense capabilities," Harada said.
WASHINGTON, August 9 -- U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday he has received a "beautiful" letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and mentioned the possibility of another meeting with Kim.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said he received the three-page letter Thursday. "I think we'll have another meeting," Trump said, without referring to when such a meeting could take place. In a June 30 meeting at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjeom, Trump and Kim agreed to restart working-level denuclearization negotiations within weeks. But such talks have yet to take place. Instead, Pyongyang has conducted a series of short-range ballistic missile tests. On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed hope that the two sides will resume stalled denuclearization talks "in the coming weeks."
WASHINGTON, August 7 -- North Korea has raised up to $2 billion for its weapons of mass destruction programs through cyberattacks on cryptocurrency operators and overseas banks, a report compiled by a panel of the U.N. sanctions committee on the country showed Monday.
"Democratic People's Republic of Korea cyber actors, many operating under the direction of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, raised money for its WMD programs with total proceeds to date estimated at up to 2 billion U.S. dollars," the panel of independent experts said in the report, according to a portion obtained by Kyodo News. "In particular, large scale attacks against cryptocurrency exchanges allowed the DPRK to generate income in ways that are hard to trace and subject to less government oversight and regulation than the traditional banking sector," the report said. The DPRK is the acronym for North Korea's official name. According to the report, the panel looked into at least 35 cases of cyberattacks in 17 countries including Chile, India, Malaysia, South Africa and South Korea. The investigation showed "a marked increase in the scope and sophistication of cyber activities including attacks in violation of the financial sanctions," it added. The findings underscore that cash-strapped North Korea has resorted to cyberattacks as a means to acquire foreign currency amid continued international sanctions.
Additionally, the panel said in the report that North Korea's Munitions Industry Department -- a designated entity involved in supervising the country's nuclear and ballistic missile programs -- has been using its subordinate corporations to place IT workers abroad to earn foreign currency. Despite international sanctions, North Korea "enhanced its overall ballistic missile capabilities" through missile launches in May and July, the report said. Pyongyang also continued to violate sanctions "through illicit ship-to-ship transfers" in procurement of WMD-related items and luxury goods, and "as a primary means of importing refined petroleum," it said. The sanctions committee operates under the mandate of the U.N. Security Council.
PYONGYANG, August 7 -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has declared that the latest series of missile launches by Pyongyang send "adequate warning" over the South Korea-US military drills.
The country's state news media reported on Wednesday that Kim made the statement as he inspected on Tuesday the launch of a new type of tactical guided missiles - the fourth test in 12 days. KCNA said Kim had watched the launches, which verified the "war capacity" of the new armament.North Korea says US 'hell-bent' on sanctions despite seeking dialogue. With the launches carried out satisfactorily, "Kim Jong Un noted that the said military action would be an occasion to send an adequate warning to the joint military drill now under way by the US and South Korean authorities," KCNA said. The drills are taking place despite Pyongyang's warnings that the exercises would jeopardise nuclear negotiations between the US and North Korea.
In Tokyo on Wednesday, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper met with his Japanese counterpart, Takeshi Iwaya, to discuss the latest developments in North Korea, as well as tensions in the South China Sea. Esper visited Australia and New Zealand before arriving in Japan. He will travel to Mongolia and South Korea during the latter part of his Asia trip. On Tuesday, Pyongyang fired two projectiles that "are assumed to be short-range ballistic missiles" into the sea, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said earlier. US President Donald Trump last week downplayed North Korea's launches calling them "very standard", while adding that Kim would not want to "disappoint" him. Trump and Kim held an historic summit in Singapore last year, where North Korea made a vague pledge on denuclearisation.
SEOUL, August 5 -- South Korea and the United States began a joint military drill Monday despite warnings from North Korea, South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong Doo told parliament.
The scaled-back combined command post exercise, called 19-2 Dong Maeng, will be held through Aug. 20 to test South Korea's capability to retake operational control over its forces from the United States during wartime. It mostly involves computer simulations, not mobilization of troops or military equipment. North Korea has said it launched two projectiles, suspected of being short-range ballistic missiles, on July 26 to send a warning to the South over the exercise, which it condemns as a rehearsal for an invasion. It also fired projectiles last Wednesday and Friday, and the South Korean and U.S. militaries are on alert more such provocations during and after the period of the exercise. North Korea has warned that going ahead with the exercise would undermine a commitment made by U.S. President Donald Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and could adversely affect working-level negotiations with the United States.
South Korea and the United have not held large-scale military drills since June last year when Trump, following his summit with Kim in Singapore, said he wanted to halt "war games" while continuing dialogue with North Korea, calling them "tremendously expensive" and "very provocative." In March, the two sides scrapped two major annual military exercises -- Key Resolve, and Foal Eagle -- that Pyongyang had viewed as provocative, in a bid to support diplomatic efforts on North Korea's denuclearization. At the same time, they launched the smaller-scale Dong Maeng as a replacement for Key Resolve, a computer-simulated command-and-control exercise, and did away with the "counterattack" portion of the exercise, for example. As for Foal Eagle, a field training exercise, it is reportedly being reorganized into low-key smaller-scale drills to be conducted at regular intervals.
From early in the morning, many citizens laid flowers and bowed before giant statues of North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung and former leader Kim Jong Il, the current leader's grandfather and father, on Mansu Hill in the heart of the capital. North Korean university students -- the men wearing suits and the women clad in the country's high-waisted, long-skirted traditional dresses -- gathered at squares across Pyongyang to dance and celebrate the anniversary.
The North's official Korean Central News Agency reported on Friday that the test of the "new-type tactical guided weapon" on Thursday morning was aimed at sending a "solemn" warning against South Korea's plan to carry out a joint military drill with the United States next month. North Korea has long called on the United States and the South to halt joint military exercises that Pyongyang regards as rehearsals for invasion. On June 30, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed at their meeting at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjeom that the two countries would resume stalled denuclearization talks within weeks. North Korea designates July 27 as a holiday. In the nation's capital, slogans to celebrate the "victory" in war appear in public spaces. Western countries including Japan share the view that in the war that started in 1950, the U.S.-led United Nations forces had fought alongside South Korea following the North's invasion of the South in June of that year, supported by China and the Soviet Union.
In contrast, North Korea claims that the United States waged the war in conspiracy with the South to topple the North. Ensuring the continuation of the political system led by the Kim family is a long-sought goal by Pyongyang. Hostilities ceased with an armistice agreement signed on July 27, 1953, by the U.N. Command, North Korea's military and Chinese armed forces. U.N. Security Council resolutions have banned North Korea from using ballistic missile technology, but Trump has downplayed Pyongyang's latest ballistic missile launches just as he had done after similar missile tests in May. "They haven't done nuclear testing. They really haven't tested missiles other than, you know, smaller ones," Trump said in a telephone interview with Fox News, emphasizing that he is getting along with Kim "very well." Pyongyang fired two missiles from its east coast that fell in the Sea of Japan on Thursday morning, with Seoul saying they were a new type of short-range ballistic missile that flew about 600 kilometers. At working-level talks ahead of the second Trump-Kim summit in February, the United States and North Korea, which have no diplomatic relations, were preparing to declare an end to the Korean War. But at their meeting in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, Kim and Trump fell short of a deal over the gap between Washington's insistence on denuclearization and Pyongyang's demand for economic sanctions relief. At the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit in June 2018 in Singapore, Trump promised to provide security guarantees to Pyongyang, while Kim committed to the "complete" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
WASHINGTON, July 26 -- US President Donald Trump on Thursday did not condemn North Korea for launching two new short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan.
Speaking to Fox News, Trump said North Korea has not tested missiles other than "smaller ones" and that he is getting along "very well" with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. In his first reaction to the launches earlier Thursday, Mr Trump said, "They haven't done nuclear testing. They really haven't tested missiles other than you know smaller ones." The remarks came after the State Department urged Pyongyang to refrain from further provocations. "We urge no more provocations," department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said at a press briefing, as she expressed hope that the two sides will promote negotiations to address North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes. "We want to have diplomatic engagement with the North Koreans," Ms Ortagus said. "We continue to press and hope for these working-level negotiations to move forward." Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said separately that the door remains open for diplomacy with North Korea despite Thursday's launches, and that he hopes working-level talks will begin as early as August. "President Trump has been incredibly consistent here: We want diplomacy to work," Mr Pompeo said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "If it takes another two weeks or four weeks, so be it." Mr Pompeo described the launches as more of a negotiating tactic than a move that would create a rupture or lead Mr Trump to reverse his commitment to talks with Mr Kim. "Everybody tries to get ready for negotiations and create leverage and create risk for the other side," he said. "We remain convinced that there's a diplomatic way forward, a negotiated solution to this."
Thursday's launches came less than a month after Mr Trump and Mr Kim agreed to restart denuclearization talks that stalled after their meeting in February in Hanoi. In their talks on June 30 in the Demilitarised Zone dividing the two Koreas, Mr Trump said he and Kim agreed to each designate a team to work out details. "What would be most productive is for chairman Kim and all his staff and for President Trump and his staff to continue upon the path that was laid out for us both in Vietnam and the DMZ, and that is a diplomatic resolution and the end of North Korea's nuclear weapons," Ms Ortagus said. She was referring to Kim's title as head of the North's ruling Workers' Party of Korea. Ms Ortagus added that sanctions "will remain in effect" until the US achieves the goal of denuclearizing North Korea. The spokeswoman suggested Mr Pompeo is unlikely to hold talks with North Korean officials during his visit to Thailand next week for Association of Southeast Asian Nations-related foreign ministerial meetings. "There's no component to announce on the trip as it relates to North Korea," she said. "We don't have any announcements about meetings with North Koreans." Ms Ortagus declined comment on news reports that North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho has cancelled his attendance at the Asean Regional Forum, a 27-member security forum, slated for Aug 2 in Bangkok.