North Korea Launches 2 Projectiles; South Korean Experts Blame Trump – The New York Times

Mr. Trump’s attitude provided the North with a perfect opportunity to test new missiles that would make it harder the South Korean and United States militaries to intercept, said Lee Byong-chul, a North Korea expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies in Seoul.

It has also helped encourage North Korea to ignore the South as a dialogue partner, he said.

“North Korea wants to advance its missile technology as much as possible before the talks with the United States resume so that it can enter them with more leverage,” Mr. Lee said. “It has become clear that North Korea wants to deal directly with the United States, seeing nothing to gain thorough talks with the South.”

Indeed, North Korea has been less amenable to negotiating with South Korea, which it accused of failing to carry out the ambitious inter-Korean economic projects that its leader, Kim Jong-un, and Mr. Moon agreed to pursue in meetings last year. In recent months, it has used increasingly insulting language to attack Mr. Moon, who has helped arrange meetings between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump.

Despite widespread skepticism over inter-Korean relations, Mr. Moon said in his speech on Thursday that despite “a series of worrying actions taken by North Korea recently,” the momentum for dialogue remains unshaken. He said South and North Korea could prosper together in an integrated “peace economy” if the North chooses “economic prosperity over its nuclear program.”

“The international community has also promised to assist its economic growth if it abandons its nuclear program,” Mr. Moon said. “New markets and opportunities will open up for both South and North Korean businesses.”

But hours after Mr. Moon’s speech, North Korea said it had nothing to talk about with South Korean authorities.

An unnamed Northern government spokesperson said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency on Friday that Mr. Moon’s remarks were so preposterous that they would “make the boiled head of a cow laugh.” The spokesperson said the joint military drill between the South and the United States was clearly an exercise to “annihilate” the North. The North also accused South Korea of continuing to build up its arms behind the mask of talking peace.

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