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Friday, August 16, 2019, 15:51
DPRK fires more projectiles, rules out talks with ROK
By Associated Press
Friday, August 16, 2019, 15:51 By Associated Press

People watch a TV news program reporting about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) firing projectiles with a file image at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Aug 16, 2019. (LEE JIN-MAN / AP)

SEOUL — The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Friday bluntly criticized the Republic of Korea (ROK)'s President Moon Jae-in for continuing to hold military exercises with the US and his rosy comments on inter-Korean diplomacy, and said Pyongyang has no current plans to talk with Seoul.

The statement by an unidentified government spokesman came hours before ROK's military detected two projectiles which the DPRK fired into the sea to extend a torrid streak of weapons display that is apparently aimed at pressuring Washington and Seoul over their joint drills and slow nuclear negotiations.

Hours before the launches, the DPRK issued a statement berating ROK, saying it's "senseless" for Seoul to hope for a resumption of inter-Korean dialogue while it continues its military exercises with the US

ROK's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectiles launched from DPRK's eastern coast flew about 230 kilometers on an apogee of 30 kilometers before landing in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The US and ROK militaries were analyzing the launches but didn't immediately say whether the weapons were ballistic missiles or rocket artillery.

The DPRK has ignored calls from ROK for dialogue recently and is seen as trying to dial up pressure on Seoul to coax major concessions from Washington on its behalf.

Moon, in a televised speech on Thursday, said a momentum for dialogue remains alive despite the series of "worrying actions taken by North Korea recently." He called for Pyongyang to choose "economic prosperity over its nuclear program."

The DPRK is also referred to as North Korea.

ALSO READ: ROK vows to build peace economy with DPRK via talks

The spokesperson of DPRK's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country said Moon's comments would make a "boiled head of a cow fall into a side-splitting laughter."

"A sure thing is that the (South) Korean chief executive is (such a) funny man as he just reads what was written by his juniors," the statement reads, while avoiding calling Moon by his name.

The ROK is also referred to as South Korea.

In the statement, the DPRK also criticized ROK's recent acquisition of advanced US-made fighter jets and said it would be "senseless" for Moon to believe that inter-Korean dialogue will automatically begin after the end of the ongoing US-ROK drills.

"We have nothing to (talk about) any more with (South) Korean authorities nor have any (plans) to sit with them again," the statement reads.

The DPRK had recently said it would talk only with Washington and not Seoul, and that inter-Korean dialogue won't resume unless ROK offers a "plausible excuse" on why it keeps hosting military drills with the United States.

Seoul's Unification Ministry, which deals with inter-Korean affairs, criticized the DPRK government statement, saying that such comments don't help efforts to improve relations.

Pyongyang has also been demanding that Seoul turn away from Washington and restart inter-Korean economic projects held back by US-led sanctions against the DPRK.

The United States has so far rejected DPRK's demands for sanctions relief in exchange for piecemeal deals toward partially surrendering its nuclear capabilities and urged Pyongyang to commit to completely relinquishing its nuclear and missile program.

It was DPRK's sixth round of weapons launches since late July when it began stepping up its weapons demonstrations while expressing frustration over stalemated nuclear negotiations with the United States and continuance of US-ROK joint military drills that the DPRK sees as an invasion rehearsal.

ROK's presidential office said national security adviser Chung Eui-yong presided over an emergency National Security Council meeting and Moon was briefed on the developments. The Blue House called for the DPRK to stop launches that risk raising military tensions on the peninsula.

The weapons the DPRK tested in recent weeks included a new rocket artillery system and what security analysts say are two new short-range mobile ballistic missile systems that would potentially expand DPRK's ability to strike targets throughout ROK, including US bases there.

Experts say US President Donald Trump's downplaying of DPRK's launches allowed the country more room to intensify its testing activity while it seeks to build leverage ahead of a possible resumption of negotiations, which could happen sometime after the end of the allied drills later this month.

ALSO READ: Trump says he received letter from DPRK's Kim

Japan's Defense Ministry said the DPRK projectiles did not reach the country's territorial waters or its exclusive economic zone. The White House said it was aware of reports of the launches and was consulting with Seoul and Tokyo.

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