Pentagon worries that North Korean missile tests will help bring a new...

Pentagon worries that North Korean missile tests will help bring a new threat

U.S. Army Gen. Robert Abrams, U.S. Forces Korea commander greets Secretary of Defense Mark T Esper as he arrives for his first visit of the Korean Peninsula at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Aug. 8, 2019 (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Daniel de La Fé)

WASHINGTON — North Korea’s latest missile test appears pointed toward developing a lower trajectory projectile that could be more maneuverable and less vulnerable to anti-missile system Pentagon official said Friday.

On Thursday, North Korea fired two more short-range ballistic missiles for the sixth time in three weeks. The Thursday tests occurred as a major U.S.-South Korea military exercise got underway.

The two missiles tested Thursday were fired from the east coast of North Korea and fell into the Sea of Japan, according to news reports.

North Korean officials said Friday that it plans to talk only with Washington and not Seoul. They said they would not talk to South Korea until it ceases hosting military drills with the United States, according to news reports.

President Donald Trump has dismissed the North Korean missile tests, which are not prohibited by any agreement, as insignificant. Pentagon officials are wary, however, because Pyongyang’s testing will move the country closer to a reliable weapon that can hit U.S. and allies based in South Korea and Japan.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has scorned the military exercises as well as complained at continued U.N. sanctions on his nation.

The U.S. and North Korea have been unable to move beyond the primary impasse of lifting the U.N. sanctions in exchange for North Korea denuclearizing. Kim wants Trump to lift sanctions before he gives up some of his weapons; Trump insists Kim give most of his weapons before sanctions are removed.

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