North Korea launches projectile presumed to be short-range missile, South Korea says

The presumed missile was fired around 6:40 a.m. local time Tuesday, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement, adding the South Korean military is “maintaining a readiness posture” for potential “additional launches.”

South Korean intelligence authorities and the United States are analyzing the situation, the statement said.

The US military’s Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii said it was consulting with allies and partners about the presumed North Korean test.

“While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to our allies, the missile launch highlights the destabilizing impact of (North Korea’s) illicit weapons program,” the US military said.

Pyongyang is barred from testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons under international law. Previous such tests have been met with international opprobrium and sanctions from the United Nations Security Council.

The news of Tuesday’s presumed test came just before North Korean representative Kim Song addressed the UN General Assembly in New York, where he lamented the divide between North and South Korea, and criticized the US presence in the region.

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“Inter-Korean relations have never come out of the shadow of US interference and obstruction,” he said, citing Washington’s close relationship with Seoul.

If confirmed, the missile test would be North Korea’s third this month.

On September 11 and 12, Pyongyang said it tested long-range cruise missiles.
Then on September 16, both North and South Korea tested ballistic missiles, ratcheting up tensions exponentially in what was already one of the most volatile regions on the planet.

Top North Korean official Kim Yo Jong — sister of leader Kim Jong Un — said last week that North Korea wanted to repair inter-Korean relations and floated the possibility of reinstalling the joint liaison office, which North Korea destroyed last June.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry welcomed Kim’s message about the possibility of holding “constructive” discussions as “meaningful.” The presidential Blue House did not make an official response.

‘Powerful offensive means’

In his speech, Ambassador Kim accused the US of “antagonizing” his country with military exercises in the region, saying Pyongyang would be “prepared to respond willingly at any time” to friendly overtures from Washington.

In the meantime, he said, “as the whole world knows and as the US is so much concerned, powerful offensive means are, of course, included in our war deterrent.”

The US has repeatedly condemned North Korean missile launches. On September 15, State Department spokesperson Ned Price called for a diplomatic approach to the issue.

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“We call on the DPRK to engage in a meaningful and substantive dialogue with us,” he said, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“We have been very clear about what we want to see happen. We are committed to the principle that dialogue will allow us to pursue our ultimate objective and that’s quite simply the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Price said.

“We have no hostile intent towards the DPRK. We have been very clear about that. What we seek to do is to reduce the threat to the United States, to our allies in the region, and that includes the ROK (Republic of Korea or South Korea) and Japan, and we think we can do that through diplomacy with the ROK.”

“We’ve been very clear publicly and we’ve been very clear in the messages that we have conveyed to the DPRK that we stand ready to engage in that dialogue. I will refer you to Pyongyang for any reaction that they may have, but for our part we stand ready to engage in that dialogue,” he said.

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, Oren Lieberman, Brad Lendon and Caitlin Hu contributed to this report.

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