North Korea fires ballistic missile as Kim prepares to meet Putin


Leader Kim Jong Un is in Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin that are expected to focus on arms sales.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has arrived at the Vostochny Cosmodrome for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a couple of hours after Pyongyang fired two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast.

Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti said Kim arrived at the cosmodrome in Russia’s eastern Amur region, minutes after reporting Putin’s arrival. There were no further details.

The Kim-Putin talks are expected to cover potential weapons sales, with the North Korean leader accompanied by top officials from the military and weapons’ industry.

Not long before the RIA report, South Korea and Japan said they detected the launch of two short-range ballistic missiles from the east coast of North Korea.

There were no immediate details on the type or range of the weapons launched.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it was analysing the data.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters that Japan had lodged a protest against North Korea through diplomatic channels in Beijing.

The two missiles fell in the sea outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), he added.

“Fascinating: a launch without Kim Jong (Un) in the country. A first,” US-based security analyst Ankit Panda wrote on X, the platform previously known as Twitter.

North Korea has carried out numerous missile tests this year in breach of United Nations’ sanctions that were imposed over its nuclear missiles programme in 2017. There have been more than 100 missile launches since the start of last year.

Pyongyang fired two short-range ballistic missiles at the end of August, in what it said was a simulation of a tactical nuclear strike on South Korea.

Last week, Kim officiated at the launch ceremony for the country’s first ‘tactical nuclear attack‘ submarine, the Hero Kim Kun Ok.

How Kim maintains command and control over his country’s missile and nuclear forces while abroad is unclear, but analysts say recent drills have revealed a system for overseeing nuclear weapons similar to those used in the United States and Russia.

A report in March by the 38 North programme, which tracks North Korea, said state media announcements outlined a process that includes commanders of units and various sub-units, a launch approval system, and “technical and mechanical devices” governing nuclear weapons control.

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