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(2nd LD) N. Korea fires two unidentified projectiles toward East Sea: JCS

Defense 18:08 October 31, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS more details in paras 1, 4-10, photo)
By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, Oct. 31 (Yonhap) -- North Korea fired two unidentified projectiles toward the East Sea on Thursday, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, amid a lack of progress in denuclearization talks with the United States and chilled inter-Korean ties.

"The projectiles were fired from areas in South Pyongan Province in the afternoon," the JCS said in a brief release, adding, "Our military is monitoring the situation in case of additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture."

No other details were immediately available, including the projectiles' type and flight range.

It is the 12th time that North Korea has carried out such a weapons test so far this year, with the last test-firing taking place on Oct. 2, when it tested a new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile, the Pukguksong-3, from waters off its east coast.

During the previous 10 rounds of tests, the North test-fired short-range projectiles, including its version of Russia's Iskander ballistic missile and a "super-large" multiple rocket launcher system.

The latest firing came a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a condolence message over the death of President Moon Jae-in's mother, a surprise move that had briefly raised hope for the possibility of Pyongyang softening its stance on Seoul.

Inter-Korean ties have been at an impasse amid no progress in denuclearization negotiations.

Last week, North Korea demanded that Seoul remove all of its long-abandoned facilities at the Mount Kumgang resort in its territory, and turned down Seoul's proposal to hold a working-level meeting to talk about the fate of the long-suspended tourism project.

Thursday's test also came as the North has stepped up pressure on the U.S. to meet the year-end deadline that it has set for Washington to come up with a new proposal on how to exchange denuclearization measures and sanctions relief.

Earlier this month, the two sides held the first nuclear talks since February's no-deal summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but the meeting in Sweden ended without an agreement, with the North accusing the U.S. of failing to put forward a new proposal.

A projectile mounted on a super-large multiple rocket launcher is fired in South Pyongan Province, western North Korea, on Sept. 10, 2019, in this photo released by the North's Korean Central News Agency on Sept. 11. The North tested the launcher under the guidance of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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