North Korea unleashes series of missile tests

President Trump would rather gush about the letters he gets from Kim Jong Un than discuss Kim testing missiles that can hit Japan and U.S. bases

President Trump would rather gush about the letters he gets from Kim Jong Un than discuss Kim testing missiles that can hit Japan and U.S. bases

North Korea on Saturday conducted its seventh weapons test this year, firing two unidentified projectiles into the East Sea, on the same day that U.S. President Donald Trump received a letter from its leader Kim Jong-un apologizing for those very same launches.

Apparently believing the dictator's explanation, the president went on to say that Kim expressed interest in restarting negotiations over North Korea's nuclear weapons program once these joint exercises are completed.

Trump said Saturday that Kim wrote in a "very attractive letter" that he wants "to meet and start negotiations as soon as" Seoul and Washington conclude the joint drill this month.

They could essentially neutralize South Korea's "kill chain" pre-emptive strike system and Korean Air and Missile Defense systems.

North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released several photos of missile test launches on Sunday.

The North has said other recent aunches were to protest U.S.

"They had better keep in mind that this dialogue would be held strictly between (North Korea) and the United States, not between the North and the South", it said.

The second round of denuclearization talks between Trump and Kim concluded in Hanoi in late February.

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On Friday the USA president said he agreed with Kim's opposition to the war games -- albeit for financial rather than military reasons - and indicated the missile launches were not important. There have been no nuclear tests. "It was. also a small apology for testing the short range missiles, and that this testing would stop when the exercises end", Trump tweeted.

If Kim's missive to Trump is to be believed, remonstrations about the joint drills could be meant to justify the North's weapons tests before talks with Washington resume, potentially when the military exercise finishes at the end of this month. The missile tests have all been short-range.

While the North has been careful to avoid criticism of Trump, it stepped up its criticism of the South over the exercises in a separate report on Sunday.

"If Kim felt the missile tests could jeopardise the dialogue momentum, he would refrain".

North Korea's recent spate of tests began on July 25, when it launched two missiles that officials believe are modeled after Russia's Iskander and appear to be created to avoid USA and South Korean defenses.

Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said by appealing directly to Trump, Kim was "trying to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul" as Pyongyang seeks to break the alliance.

Washington ultimately did not abolish the drills, but it did agree with Seoul to scale down the major summertime exercises to a computerized command post exercise.

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