The Pentagon said Thursday that North Korea “flight-tested multiple ballistic missiles” in the second launch of weapons in less than a week.
The missiles were launched from northwestern North Korea Thursday evening local time, and "the missiles flew east" for more than 186 miles "before impacting in the ocean," according to the Pentagon.
Immediately after the incident, a South Korean military official had described the launch as unidentified projectiles, and a South Korean presidential spokesman later said they were suspected of being short-range missiles.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in an interview with South Korean broadcaster KBS that a ballistic missile test, even if short range, could violate United Nations Security Council resolutions. U.N. sanctions bar North Korea from engaging in any ballistic activity.
On Saturday, North Korea fired what South Korea described as several short-range projectiles thought to involve "new tactical guidance weapons" and multiple rocket launchers.
North Korean state media KCNA said Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the most recent launch, which it described as a drill, but did not mention ballistic missiles or specify what was fired.
KCNA claimed that the dictator “will further strengthen the ability to carry out combat missions of the leading and western frontline defenders, and prepare for the martial mobilization to cope with any injustice," according to a translation by the Reuters news agency.
President Donald Trump and Kim abruptly ended their summit in Hanoi in February after they were unable to negotiate a denuclearization deal.
Trump on Thursday said the latest launch involved short-range missiles, adding that "nobody's happy about it."
"They're talking about negotiating, but I don't think they're ready to negotiate," Trump said.
However, experts said the launches appeared to be a tactical move by North Korea aimed at sealing another round of talks.
"All this mess is about getting Americans back to the negotiating table," said Andrei Lankov, professor of Korean studies at Kookmin University in Seoul. "They want to see Donald Trump again, they don't want to be abandoned."