North Korea fires ballistic missile ahead of talks with US

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The United States called on Pyongyang on Wednesday to “refrain from provocations” and remain committed to nuclear negotiations after North Korea fired a ballistic missile off its east coast.

“We call on (North Korea) to refrain from provocations, abide by their obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolutions, and remain engaged in substantive and sustained negotiations to do their part to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and achieve denuclearization,” a state department spokeswoman said in Rome.

North Korea fired a missile off its east coast on Wednesday that South Korea said may have been launched from a submarine, a day after it announced the resumption of talks with the United States aimed at ending its nuclear programme.

The launch was likely a reminder by the North of its weapons capability ahead of the talks with Washington, analysts said. North Korea rejects United Nations resolutions that ban Pyongyang from using ballistic missile technology, saying they are an infringement of its right to self-defence.

Talks aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes have been stalled since a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in February ended without a deal.

South Korea’s military said it had detected the launch of one missile that flew 450 km (280 miles) and reached an altitude of 910 km (565 miles). It was likely a Pukguksong-class weapon, as the North’s earlier submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) were known, that is under development.

South Korean Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that the Pukguksong has a range of about 1,300 km (910 miles) and that the apogee of the missile fired on Wednesday may have been raised to reduce the distance it travelled.

South Korea’s military said the missile was launched eastward from the sea northeast of Wonsan, the site of one of North Korea’s military bases on the east coast.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the launch, saying it was a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

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