Pyongyang fired two short-range missiles Thursday from the Sino-ri military base, while the US envoy to North Korea, Stephen Biegun, landed a few hours earlier in Seoul to continue denuclearization negotiations.
Kim Jong-un’s message is clear: without agreement, Pyongyang will not spare Washington. On February 28, Donald Trump departed prematurely from the summit in Hanoi where he had unsuccessfully tried to reach a nuclear deal with the North Korean dictator. Since then, the American sanctions still weigh on the kingdom which does not intend to let itself be done. North Korea retaliated last Saturday by launching several missiles, including a short-range missile, during a “purely defensive” military exercise under the Pyongyang regime. He outbid Thursday with the shooting of two short-range missiles to the east, from the Sino-ri military base located 77 kilometers northwest of the capital. The two shots were fired on Thursday at 16:29 and 16:49 local time, reached 50 km altitude and one of them traveled a distance of 420 km, according to the staff of the South Korean armed forces. . “Whatever may have been the intentions of North Korea, we warn that this could make negotiations more difficult,” said South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
The shooting came hours after the arrival of US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun in Seoul. His visit aims to revive denuclearization negotiations with Pyongyang and discuss food aid to be sent by South Korea to its northern neighbor, where malnutrition affects 4 out of 10 people. But for Pyongyang, research of an agreement remains a priority and the regime has warned that it “will not be content with humanitarian aid” and that it intends to obtain “security guarantees in exchange for the denuclearization process” according to Hong Min, a researcher at the Korean Institute for National Unification, interviewed by AFP.
- A “routine exercise”
Last Saturday, after firing missiles, including a short-range missile, the regime had refrained from targeting the United States, Japan or South Korea, citing a completely routine “exercise routine” overseen by the North Korean dictator. Like Pyongyang, Washington and Seoul did not qualify these weapons as “missiles”. President Trump was even quick to write Saturday in a tweet that Kim “knows that I am with him and does not want to break the promise he made me. An agreement will take place! “
For lack of an agreement with Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un gives Vladimir Putin soft eyes that he met for the first time in Vladivostock at the end of April. This tete-a-tete helped revive the North Korean diplomacy that took a hit after the failure of the Hanoi summit. In Vladivostock, the North Korean dictator complained about the “bad faith” of the Americans in the nuclear crisis to his former Soviet “big brother”.