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U.S., ROK “hesitant” to call DPRK projectiles “missiles”

On North Korea’s launch of short-range projectiles over the weekend, Asahi and Sankei wrote that although most security analysts suspect they were short-range ballistic missiles probably modeled after Russia’s Iskander mobile missile, U.S. and ROK officials have not outwardly criticized the North from concern that the Kim regime might walk away from dialogue in response. According to the papers, a short-range missile launch would be a clear violation of relevant UN resolutions. The dailies highlighted Secretary Pompeo’s remarks on TV and President Trump’s tweet expressing willingness to continue discussions with the DPRK, with Asahi conjecturing that the top U.S. officials are concerned that criticizing Pyongyang for breaching the UN resolutions would be tantamount to casting doubt on the Trump administration’s “diplomatic accomplishment” of improving ties with the Kim regime. 


In a related development, Sankei wrote that in a meeting with LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Kishida yesterday, Special Representative for North Korea Biegun reportedly described the launch as a “reflection of impatience” on the part of the North Koreans. 


Meanwhile, Yomiuri and Sankei wrote that senior defense officials of the U.S., Japan, and South Korea will gather in Seoul on Thursday to discuss issues of mutual concern, including the latest launch of projectiles by North Korea.

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