North Korea says the two missiles launched this week toward the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, were intended to send a warning to South Korea.
According to North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the launches were “personally organized” by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “as part of the power demonstration to send a solemn warning to the South Korean military.”
The report accused the South Korean military of holding “military exercises in defiance of the repeated warnings from the DPRK”—perhaps alluding to the July 20 announcement that the US and South Korea will conduct joint military exercises next month. North Korea’s Foreign Ministry has previously called the US-South Korean drills a “rehearsal of war.”
The US and South Korea have suspended or scaled back a number of recent joint exercises as part of an effort to ease tensions with Pyongyang..
According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un said he was “gratified by the direct confirmation and conviction of the rapid anti-firepower capability of the tactical guided weapon system,” and warned “the south Korean chief executive should not make a mistake of ignoring the warning from Pyongyang.”
South Korea has already said that it views the launch “as a military threat” and one designed to undermine progress toward stability on the Korean Peninsula.
On Thursday, South Korea’s National Security Council’s standing committee concluded the launches had involved “a new type of short-range ballistic missile,” suggesting that the isolated country has been actively developing its military capabilities despite repeated meetings between Kim and US President Donald Trump.
South Korea has “agreed to make a final assessment after further precise analysis with the US,” according to the statement released by the South Korean Presidential Office on Thursday evening.