North Korea said Wednesday leader Kim Jong Un supervised a live-fire demonstration of newly developed short-range ballistic missiles meant to send a warning to the US and South Korea over their joint military exercises. KCNA said two missiles launched from a western airfield flew across the country and over the area surrounding Pyongyang before accurately hitting an island target off its eastern coast. Its four rounds of weapons demonstrations in two weeks come during a stalemate in nuclear negotiations and after President Trump repeatedly dismissed the significance of the tests by his "friend," even though the weapons show the North's ability to strike at US allies South Korea and Japan and its military bases there, per the AP. Experts say Trump's downplaying of the North's weapons displays gave it more room to advance its capabilities and build leverage ahead of negotiations, which may resume sometime after the end of the allies' drills later this month.
KCNA said the launches early Tuesday verified the reliability and combat ability of "new-type tactical guided missiles." Kim expressed satisfaction and said the launches would send an appropriate level of warning to the military exercises between the US and South Korea that began on Monday, the report said. Pyongyang's official Rodong Sinmun also published photos showing what appeared to be a missile soaring from a launcher installed on a vehicle and Kim smiling and celebrating with military officials. KCNA's report came a day after South Korea's military said it detected two early-morning launches that were likely ballistic missiles. Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectiles traveled about 279 miles before landing in waters off the country's eastern coast. It said the projectiles showed similar flight characteristics to short-range missiles North Korea fired on July 25. (Read more North Korea stories.)