North Korea’s military fired two ballistic missiles into the sea on Thursday (July 25), according to a report by the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff. The projectiles were fired just after dawn from North Korea’s eastern coastal city of Wonsan, in the direction of the Sea of Japan.
One of the two missiles flew approximately 690 kilometers (428 miles) and appeared to be a “new type of missile” not seen before by Seoul’s military. The other flew 430 kilometers (270 miles). Both were fired from mobile launchers and flew at a maximum altitude of 50 kilometers (30 miles), according to an initial South Korean analysis quoted by The Associated Press.
The missile test comes just a few days after North Korea published photos of Chairman Kim Jong-Un inspecting what appeared to be a new submarine under construction. The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Kim was briefed about the submarine’s operational and tactical data and combat weapons systems. KCNA also reported that Kim expressed “great satisfaction” and “”stressed the need to steadily and reliably increase the national defense capability, by directing big efforts to the development of naval weapons and equipment, such as submarines,” adding the submarine would be deployed to the country’s territorial waters in the east “soon.”
An earlier short-range ballistic missile test on May 4, 2019 that appeared to violate the UN Security Council resolutions banning North Korean ballistic missile activity was downplayed by President Donald Trump and other US officials who pointed out at the time that the North did not violate its self-imposed suspension of tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Analysts said planned US – South Korea joint military drills scheduled for next likely prompted the missile tests by Pyongyang, with the North Korean foreign ministry issuing a statement last week that called the drills a “rehearsal of war.”
President Donald Trump held an impromptu meeting with Chairman Kim Jong-Un on June 30 in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. At that time the two leaders had agreed to pick up stalled nuclear talks that collapsed earlier in the year.
The dialogue was expected to resume between diplomats sometime this month, but last week North Korea said the talks were jeopardized by the joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin paid a visit to South Korea earlier this month and hosted a special event for leaders of Korean industry, held by the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry together with KCCI Chairman Park Young-maan. Memorandums of Understanding were signed in the field of trade between the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and the Israel Export Institute, and in the field of robotics between the Daegu municipality and the Israel Export Institute.
Israeli relations with North Korea, however, and not nearly as cordial.
In April 2017, the North Korean foreign ministry called behavior by then-Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Liberman “reckless … sordid and wicked” and said it constituted a “grave challenge to the DPRK.” At the time, Liberman had warned in an interview with a Hebrew-language news outlet that Israel might find itself in the line of fire between the United States and North Korea if the two were to engage in a military confrontation.
North Korean maintains close military ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and with Syria. Both are dedicated to the annihilation of the State of Israel.