North Korea fired two suspected short-range missiles toward the sea on Thursday, South Korean officials said, its second weapons launch in five days and a possible warning that nuclear disarmament talks with Washington could be in danger.
The North has said Saturday's drill involved multiple Pyongyang "long-range multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons". They covered distances of 420 km (260 miles) and 270 km (168 miles) and reached an altitude of about 50 km (30 miles) before falling into the sea, they said.
Moon warned that such behavior "could make the current dialogue and negotiation phase hard", while Trump said "nobody's happy about it" and suggested North Korea may not be "ready to negotiate". The coal trade itself is also believed to fund the isolated country's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
Over the weekend, the isolated, communist nation launched several missiles and rockets to show that it is still working on new weapons amid de-escalation talks between President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un.
A South Korea soldier stands guard in the demilitarised zone that has separated the two Koreas since the end of the Korean War in 1953.
Despite recent threats by the North to seek a new path, the nature and presentation of the two recent launches demonstrate that Pyongyang does not intend to walk away from talks any time soon, analysts say. The sanctions have created economic difficulties for North Korea. "Regarding the issue, we have a common understanding with the United States", the Foreign Ministry's deputy spokesperson Kim Deuk-hwan said during a press briefing Thursday.
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Gordan Chang, author of "The Coming Collapse of China", told Yahoo Finance Tuesday that in this case, "China has more to lose". The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 66.47 points or 0.3 percent, after being down nearly 500 points earlier in the session.
While America remains cautious about providing the North with materials, fearing that the regime would use any aid for military purposes, Washington has confirmed that it will not stand in South Korea's way if Seoul chooses to provide food aid to the North.
North Korea lashed out at the United States and South Korea this week, saying last weekend's launches were "regular and self-defensive". Those included increasing pressure for sanctions relief, and protesting Seoul's military buildup including the purchase of new F-35 fighter aircraft as well as joint military drills by the United States and South Korea, which North Korea complained about in statements defending the tests. It's now being moved to American Samoa, Justice Department officials said.
With two missile launches in a week, Pyongyang is walking a fine line between increasing pressure on the USA and not derailing nuclear negotiations - all while giving itself room to escalate, analysts say.
North Korea last conducted a major missile test in November 2017 when it flight-tested the Hwasong-15 and demonstrated the potential capability to reach deep into the USA mainland.
Since then, Kim has accused Washington of acting in "bad faith" and given it until the end of the year to change its approach. Experts think North Korea still needs more tests to make its ICBMs viable.
Kim declared an end to the testing of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles during rapid rapprochement previous year.