(Update 1: adds South Korean military comment in pars 5-7, adds to par 12, deletes third-last par, edits final par)
Seoul, Mar 24 (efe-epa).- United States President Joe Biden said little had changed after it emerged that North Korea fired two cruise missiles from its west coast over the weekend.
Pyongyang suggested the possibility of resuming these tests last week, coinciding with joint Seoul-Washington military exercises and the visit of the US secretaries of state and defense to the South Korean capital.
“We have learned that nothing much has changed,” Biden told reporters Tuesday (Wednesday, Seoul time) when asked about the Asian country’s first launches since he came to power.
Faced with stalled denuclearization dialog since 2019, in January North Korean leader Kim Jong-un urged Biden’s administration to propose new alternatives to resume talks, warning that Pyongyang was preparing new weapons tests. However, recently it has been ignoring Washington’s attempts at contact.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff later said in a statement Wednesday that the South Korean military had been monitoring the missile activity “in real time,” in cooperation with the US.
“We have captured two suspected cruise missiles in the Pyeongnam Hot Spring area,” on Sunday morning, it said.
South Korean and US militaries are analyzing details.
Cruise missiles do not violate United Nations Security Council resolutions, which prohibit North Korea from firing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, and which it has not done since November 2017.
It is the first test by the regime since April last year, when it fired anti-ship cruise missiles.
The news of the missile launches also comes a day after the South’s military indicated that Pyongyang has deployed rocket launcher units on the border island of Changrin on its northwestern coast.
The fact that the launches were first reported by the American newspaper Washington Post and not by the military intelligence of South Korea, Japan or the United States, is unusual and may indicate that Washington, which has said that it remains open to dialog, and its allies want to keep the incident low-profile.
North Korean media outlets usually print notices of the moves the day after they are executed, but it has been silent on the matter. EFE-EPA