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North Korea launches missiles despite Kim Jong-un’s offer of nuclear talks – Seoul on alert

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The missiles were fired at 6.53am and 7.12am from a base near the city of Kaechon about 50 miles north of the capital Pyongyang, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defence Ministry. A South Korean army spokesman said: “Our military is monitoring the situation in the case of additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture. We call on North Korean to instantly stop such acts that heighten tensions.”

The launches were the eighth since late July and the first since August 24. The previous seven launches have revealed short-range missile and rocket artillery systems that experts say would potentially expand its capabilities to strike targets throughout South Korea, including US military bases there.

Seoul said it had held an emergency National Security Council (NSC) meeting, presided over by Chung Eui-yong, chief of the presidential national security office, and reviewed the overall security conditions on the Korean Peninsula.

Officials said the the double launch came just hours after  North Korea’s first vice foreign minister Choe Son-hui announced Pyongyang was willing to resume denuclearisation talks with the US but warned Washington had to come up with a new approach or face more deadlock.

Observers said today’s launches could be designed to strengthen Kim’s negotiating hand ahead of fresh negotiations.

Dialogue between the two sides broke down last February when a summit between Donald Trump and his North Korean countepart ended early without resolution.

North Korea is widely believed to want the US to provide it with security guarantees and extensive relief from US-led sanctions in return for limited denuclearisation steps.

 

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