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(2nd LD) Pentagon says N.K. launches were of ballistic missiles that flew over 300 km

Defense 09:08 May 10, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with Pompeo's meeting with Japanese official in last para)

WASHINGTON, May 9 (Yonhap) -- The Pentagon said Thursday that North Korea's launches earlier the same day were of ballistic missiles that flew more than 300 kilometers.

North Korea is banned by multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions from using ballistic missile technology.

The Pentagon's assessment came after the South Korean military characterized the projectiles as two short-range missiles that flew 420 km and 270 km, respectively.

It also followed Pyongyang's announcement that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had overseen a drill of "various long-range strike means."

This EPA file photo shows acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. (Yonhap)

This EPA file photo shows acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. (Yonhap)

"During the early morning hours on 9 May Washington DC local time, early evening hours in Seoul and Tokyo, North Korea flight-tested multiple ballistic missiles from a location in northwestern North Korea," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn said in a statement.

"The missiles flew east from the launch area to distances in excess of 300 km before impacting in the ocean."

Thursday's launches were the second in five days and broke a lull in the North's testing of ballistic missiles since November 2017.

It appeared to be signaling Pyongyang's frustration with Washington over their stalled negotiations on dismantling the North's nuclear weapons program in exchange for sanctions relief.

U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier Thursday that the U.S. is looking at the situation "very seriously" and added he doesn't think the North Koreans are ready to negotiate.

"Nobody's happy about it, but we're taking a good look, and we'll see, we'll see," he told reporters at the White House.

A second summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un in February in Vietnam ended without a deal due to differences over the scope of North Korea's denuclearization and sanctions relief from the U.S.

Speaking to reporters earlier, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who was nominated by Trump the same day to be the secretary, said his department is focused on supporting diplomacy for North Korea's denuclearization.

"We're going to stick to our diplomacy, and as you all know, we haven't changed our operations or our posture, and we'll continue to generate the readiness we need in case diplomacy fails," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks in Washington with Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and reaffirmed their countries' commitment to the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea, the State Department said in a statement.


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