North Korea fires three missiles into sea: US

RSTV Bureau

North Korea today launched three ballistic missiles, US military officials said, dampening President Donald Trump’s optimism to strike a deal with Pyongyang to contain its rapidly expanding nuclear weapons programme.

NORTH KOREA : This image made from video of a news bulletin aired by North Korea's KRT on Tuesday, July 4, 2017, shows what was said to be North Korea leader Kim Jung Un, center, applauding after the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, ICBM, in North Korea's northwest. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this photo. North Korea claimed to have tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile in a launch Tuesday, a potential game-changing development in its push to militarily challenge Washington — but a declaration that conflicts with earlier South Korean and U.S. assessments that it had an intermediate range. AP/PTI

NORTH KOREA : This image made from video of a news bulletin aired by North Korea’s KRT on Tuesday, July 4, 2017, shows what was said to be North Korea leader Kim Jung Un, center, applauding after the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, ICBM, in North Korea’s northwest. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this photo. North Korea claimed to have tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile in a launch Tuesday, a potential game-changing development in its push to militarily challenge Washington ‚Äî but a declaration that conflicts with earlier South Korean and U.S. assessments that it had an intermediate range. AP/PTI

The US Pacific Command said the missiles launched into the sea east of the Korean Peninsula appeared to be short- range. The first and second missiles “failed in flight” and the third “appears to have blown up almost immediately”.

It said the North American Aerospace Defence Command determined the missile launches did not pose a threat to Guam, which the North previously warned it would target if provoked.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump has been briefed and “we are monitoring the situation.”

North Korea last month fired intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the US mainland, triggering heightened rhetoric from both the sides.

Trump had warned of “fire and fury” and days later ramped up his threat, saying “maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough”.

But the US president this week indicated a deal could be struck with North Korea to contain its nuclear weapons programme. His comments had come soon after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the North has demonstrated some level of restraint in recent days, “that we’ve not seen in the past”.

Tillerson had hoped that this could be the beginning of the signal from Pyongyang the US had been looking for.

Today’s missiles launches, though failed, reignite the possibility of increasing tensions in the peninsula.

They come during a joint military exercise between the US and South Korea. The two countries say the annual military exercise is defensive but Pyongyang condemns it as hostile, and even as a rehearsal for invasion.

In response to the ICBM launches in July, the UN Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on August 5.