North Korea on Sunday said that it had tested several long-range multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons into the sea off its eastern coast. The ‘strike drill’ was overseen by Kim Jong Un.
"A number of short-range projectiles" were also fired from the Hodo peninsula into the Sea of Japan. According to a BBC report, North Korea's leader gave the order of firing to "increase the combat ability" of the country.
The development is being seen as a sign of Pyongyang's growing frustration at stalled diplomatic talks with Washington meant to provide coveted sanctions relief in return for nuclear disarmament.
South Korea's military has bolstered its surveillance in case there are additional weapons launches, and South Korean and U.S. authorities are analysing the details.
If it's confirmed that the North fired banned ballistic missiles, it would be the first such launch since the North's November 2017 test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. That year saw a string of increasingly powerful weapons tests from the North and a belligerent response from President Donald Trump that had many in the region fearing war.
US President Donald Trump tweeted he believed Kim would not jeopardise the path towards better relations.
He added that the North Korean leader "knows that I am with him & does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen!
"I believe that Kim Jong-Un fully realises the great economic potential of North Korea and will do nothing to interfere or end it," Trump posted on social media on Saturday.
The South initially reported Saturday that a single missile was fired, but later issued a statement that said "several projectiles" had been launched and that they flew up to 200 kilometers (125 miles) before splashing into the sea toward the northeast.
South Korea's liberal president, Moon Jae-in, has doggedly pursued engagement with the North and is seen as a driving force behind the two summits between Trump and Kim.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha talked by phone with Pompeo about the North Korean launches, Kang's ministry said in a statement. The ministry also said that South Korea's chief nuclear envoy, Lee Do-hoon, had a telephone conversation with Stephen Biegun, the US special representative for North Korea who is scheduled to travel to Seoul next week for talks.
Japan's Defense Ministry said the projectiles weren't a security threat and didn't reach anywhere near the country's coast. Japan will likely avoid any harsh response as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to secure his own summit with Kim.
With Agency Inputs