WASHINGTON — North Korea launched two more missile-like projectiles Thursday — the second test in a week, Pentagon officials confirmed Thursday.
The missiles were launched far from the border with South Korea, with one traveling about 260 miles and the second approximately 168 miles, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. They quoted sources at South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The projectiles tested Saturday and Thursday were of short range and not a threat to the U.S. mainland, Pentagon officials said.
“The launch of short range missiles by North Korea is yet another sign that President [Donald] Trump is in over his head with respect to North Korea, and another example of why President Trump is so misguided in his trust of dictators and strongmen like Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin, and now, Nicolas Maduro,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said in a statement.
“The President set himself and our country up for failure with his unilateral meeting with Kim Jong-un last year, when he should have been working with our allies, especially South Korea, to reduce tensions and move toward a deal that is in our national interest,” Gallego said.
“As our U.S. military and civilian personnel do their work to protect us and our allies, I hope this incident spurs the President to closer coordination with our friends in Seoul, Tokyo, and around the world so that North Korea is once again isolated and sanctions breakers in North Korea and China are punished,” he said.
The test came one day after Stephen Biegun, U.S. special representative for North Korea, arrived in Seoul, South Korea for talks.
The missiles fell into the East China Sea and did not threaten Japan, that country’s Kyodo News agency reported. The U.S. has military bases in South Korea and Japan; the closest U.S. territories are Guam and the Mariana Islands, about 2,000 miles southeast of the Korean peninsula.
“The Offices of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense (GHS/OCD), in conjunction with the Mariana Regional Fusion Center (MRFC), federal and military partners, continue to monitor events surrounding the region including reports of a launched projectile out of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), today,” Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense said in a news release. “The reported projectile was launched out of the DPRK toward the east and GHS/OCD was informed it posed no threat to Guam or the Marianas.”
38 North, a monitoring group, had no early information on the Thursday launch. It said on its website that the Saturday test was strong evidence that Pyongyang is continuing to enhance its military and missile capabilities despite holding summits with Trump. “Kim Jong Un (the North Korean leader) very likely has other strategic weapons projects underway, whether foreign procurement efforts or indigenous development programs,” 38 North said.
“If little progress is made in the negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang in the near to mid-term future, expect to see the unveiling of more, increasingly capable strategic weapons and capabilities,” 38 North said.
Trump said he continues to have faith in Kim’s desire to find agreement on denuclearization and other areas. “We’re looking at it very seriously now. Nobody’s happy about it but we’re taking a good look and we’ll see,” Trump said Thursday, according to news reports. “The relationship continues.”