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US, Japan Criticize 'Provocative' North Korea Missile Launch

PENTAGON / SEOUL - The U.S. and Japan are calling the recent North Korean missile launch "unnecessarily provocative" just days ahead of working-level nuclear talks with the United States.

North Korea tested a ballistic missile Wednesday that was designed to be launched from a submarine — an important advancement in Pyongyang’s weapons program.

"This morning, the Secretary had a call with Japanese Minister of Defense (Taro) Kono where they discussed North Korea. They both agreed that the North Korea tests are unnecessarily provocative and do not set the stage for diplomacy and that North Korea should cease these tests," chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters at a briefing Thursday.

The Korean Central News Agency on Thursday claimed a successful test of the “new-type” submarine-launched ballistic missile, or SLBM, which it dubbed “Pukguksong-3.” KCNA pictures showed the missile emerging from the sea after apparently being launched from an underwater platform.

Col. Pat Ryder, the spokesman for the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Thursday briefing that North Korea fired a "short-to-medium-range ballistic missile" from the Wonsan Bay that flew 450 kilometers (280 miles) into the Sea of Japan.

"We have no indication that it was launched from a submarine, but rather a sea-based platform," added Ryder.

It is North Korea’s first test of an SLBM since 2016. Experts say its maximum range was around 1,900 kilometers (1,180 miles), making it medium range. That is the longest range of any missile North Korea has tested since 2017.

The launch came hours after North Korea announced it would hold working-level nuclear talks with the United States Saturday. It’s not clear how the latest launch will impact the talks.

North Korea has conducted 11 rounds of missile launches since May. U.S. President Donald Trump has said he has “no problem” with Pyongyang’s previous launches, since they were short-range. Trump has not responded to the latest launch.

(VOA)

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