The missiles were fired at 6.53am and 7.12am from a base near the city of Kaechon about 50 miles north of the capital Pyongyang, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defence Ministry. A South Korean army spokesman said: “Our military is monitoring the situation in the case of additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture. We call on North Korean to instantly stop such acts that heighten tensions.”
The launches were the eighth since late July and the first since August 24. The previous seven launches have revealed short-range missile and rocket artillery systems that experts say would potentially expand its capabilities to strike targets throughout South Korea, including US military bases there.
Seoul said it had held an emergency National Security Council (NSC) meeting, presided over by Chung Eui-yong, chief of the presidential national security office, and reviewed the overall security conditions on the Korean Peninsula.
In Washington, a senior White House official said it is aware of the latest missile launches and is closely monitoring the situation in co-operation with its allies.
Officials said the the double launch came just hours after North Korea’s first vice foreign minister Choe Son-hui announced Pyongyang was willing to resume denuclearisation talks with the US but warned Washington had to come up with a new approach or face more deadlock.
Observers said today’s launches could be designed to strengthen Kim’s negotiating hand ahead of fresh negotiations.
Dialogue between the two sides broke down last February when a summit between Donald Trump and his North Korean countepart ended early without resolution.
North Korea is widely believed to want the US to provide it with security guarantees and extensive relief from US-led sanctions in return for limited denuclearisation steps.
In the late-night statement carried by state media, Ms Choe said North Korea was willing to sit down with the US “for comprehensive discussions in late September of the issues we have so far taken up, at a time and place to be agreed”.
Mr Trump described North Korea’s announcement as ”interesting”.
He said: “We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, we have our hostages back, we’re getting the remains of our great heroes back and we’ve had no nuclear testing for a long time.”
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