UPDATE – North Korea fires missiles ahead of US talks


By Alex Jensen

SEOUL (AA) — North Korea launched short-range projectiles into open water from its east coast Wednesday morning, just a day after announcing it would hold working-level negotiations with the United States this weekend.

South Korea's National Security Council suspected it may have been a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test, according to local news agency Yonhap.

As the North is barred from testing ballistic missiles under UN restrictions and submarine-launched projectiles are potentially harder to defend against, the council expressed "strong concern."

This was the 11th round of missile launches by the North this year alone.

Even though U.S. President Donald Trump has indicated a willingness to tolerate short-range tests, the timing may have surprised onlookers given the plan for dialogue this Saturday.

However, North Korea's state-run media was highly critical of Seoul on Wednesday following South Korea's demonstration of newly purchased U.S.-made F-35 stealth fighter jets during an Armed Forces Day ceremony the previous day.

The North's Rodong Sinmun newspaper claimed the ongoing stalemate in inter-Korean relations, which has persisted despite a surprise inter-Korean border meeting between the leaders of both Koreas and the U.S. in June, "lies with betrayal behaviors of the South Korean authorities."

After an unprecedented series of three inter-Korean summits last year, the paper said Seoul agreed to work to improve ties but instead "has conspired with outside forces and stuck to concealed hostile acts."

Pyongyang has also consistently bristled over joint military drills involving U.S. and South Korean troops.