KIM Jong Un – variously described as unhinged and the world’s most dangerous dictator – yesterday supervised North Korea’s second weapons test in less than a week, the firing of two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast.

Observers said the move – a violation of UN Security Council resolutions – could be aimed at increasing pressure on the US as the two sides struggle to set up fresh nuclear talks.

In a statement, South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said the missiles were launched from Wonsan, a city the North promotes as a holiday destination but which it also uses as a regular launch site.

It said both missiles were thought to have flown about 250km (155 miles) at a maximum altitude of 30km (19 miles) and that the militaries in South Korea and the US were trying to gather more details.

The test came as North Korea’s negotiations with the US over its nuclear weapons programme remained at stalemate and as Pyongyang expressed anger over planned US-South Korean military exercises.

“The North’s repeated missile launches are not helpful to efforts to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and we urge (North Korea) to stop this kind of behaviour,” the South Korean statement said.


ACCORDING to North Korea’s state media Kim supervised the tests, which were designed to deliver a “solemn warning” to the South over its purchase of high-tech US-made fighter jets and the planned military manoeuvres, which Pyongyang called an invasion threat.

Last Thursday, the North fired two short-range ballistic missiles which Seoul officials said flew 600km (370 miles) at up to 50km (30 miles) before landing in the sea.

Even though North Korea is banned by the UN from using ballistic technology in any weapons launches, it’s unlikely that the nation, already under 11 rounds of sanctions, will be hit with fresh punitive measures. Past sanctions were imposed only when it conducted long-range launches.

Japanese Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters yesterday that the most recently launched weapons did not reach Japan’s exclusive economic zone and that officials were still analysing details, including the flight distance and trajectory.

“It is extremely regrettable that North Korea continues firing the missiles that violate the U.N. resolutions,” Iwaya said.

Observers said a low altitude flight by the missiles indicated that North Korea may have been testing their ability to avoid being intercepted.


QUITE a few. Earlier last week, Kim visited a newly built submarine and expressed his satisfaction with its weapons system. North Korea later said its deployment was “near at hand”.

In a private briefing to parliamentarians yesterday, South Korean military intelligence officers said they had determined that the submarine likely has three launch tubes for missiles, said Lee Hye-hoon, head of parliament’s intelligence committee.

If confirmed, this would be North Korea’s first operational submarine with missile launch tubes, some experts said. Acquiring the ability to launch missiles from submarines would be an alarming development because they are harder to detect in advance.


THEY have had a few summits, but they could hardly be described as a meeting of great minds.

The launches yesterday came after a senior official said the US president sent Kim mementos from his brief visit to an inter-Korean border town last month. A top staff member from the National Security Council hand-delivered photographs from the leaders’ meeting at the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) to a North Korean official last week.

The Trump administration official spoke anonymously because they were not authorised to speak publicly.

The DMZ meeting was the third summit between the pair – at their second, in Vietnam, Trump rejected Kim’s demand for widespread sanctions relief in return for dismantling the North’s main nuclear complex, a partial disarmament step.

During the latest meeting, the pair agreed to resume nuclear diplomacy in coming weeks, but there has been no known meeting between the countries.

Despite a recent lack of progress in nuclear diplomacy, Trump and Kim have said they have maintained a good relationship.

In 2017, they exchanged crude insults and threats of destruction as Kim oversaw a series of high-profile nuclear and missile tests meant to build nuclear missiles capable of reaching the United States.