On 4 May, it was confirmed by the South Korean military that North Korea had fired two short range missiles east from the Northern Pyongan Province into the ocean. The military stated that “South Korea military has reinforced surveillance and vigilance for any more North Korean missile launches, and is maintaining fully preparedness by cooperating with the U.S.”
The missile launch coincides with a meeting between U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun and South Korea to discuss efforts to finalize efforts to denuclearize North Korea. Despite the missile launch, the U.S. “still holds the door open for North Korea to return to negotiations.” The meeting between representatives from the U.S. and South Korea also discussed how to “achieve complete de-nuclearization and establish peace,” in the Korean peninsula.
A spokesman for the North Korean’s foreign ministry said of the missile launch, “The recent drill conducted by our army is nothing more than part of the regular military training, and it has neither targeted anyone nor led to an aggravation of the situation in the region.”
The missile launches follow a second round of talks between U.S. president Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim-Jung Un that ended abruptly in February. Trump said that North Korea “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that. They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that.”
Last year in Singapore, when Trump and Kim met for the first time, the two countries signed a declaration of friendship, announcing that North Korea would work towards de-nuclearization with the help of the U.S. That pledge did not specify how de-nuclearization would happen or in what time frame it would occur in.