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North Korea fires missiles, US calls it 'normal testing'

US President Joe Biden
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US President Joe Biden 

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The US has said that the multiple short-range missiles fired by North Korea over the weekend was a part of "normal testing", and not in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Washington/Pyongyang: The US has said that the multiple short-range missiles fired by North Korea over the weekend was a part of "normal testing", and not in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Pyongyang fired two cruise missiles off its west coast on Sunday, Yonhap news agency cited military sources in Seoul as saying.

US President Joe Biden has said he does not consider North Korea's launch of short-range missiles as a provocation.

The launch is the first since Biden took office. Biden said defence officials called it "business as usual", the BBC reported on Wednesday.

"We've learned nothing much has changed," US President Joe Biden told reporters in Columbus, Ohio, when he was asked about the missle tests, DPA news agency reported.

The test on Sunday came in the wake of joint military exercises by the armed forces of South Korea and the US. The nine-day command exercise, which did not include field training, ended on Thursday last week.

The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Kim Yo Jong, had condemned the military exercises and accused the new US administration of wanting to cause trouble as a first step.

The nuclear nation is banned from testing ballistic missiles by UN resolutions, and has been slapped with tough international sanctions to deter it from continuing to develop rockets that could be equipped with nuclear warheads.

The sanctions imposed as a result of the weapons programme are hampering North Korea's economic development.

Global concerns about North Korea intensified late in 2019 after Pyongyang imposed a year-end deadline for the United States to offer sanctions relief and threatened to send a "Christmas gift," widely interpreted to mean a weapons test, if demands were not met.

Washington's negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear weapons programme have not made any progress since former US President Donald Trump's failed summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in February 2019.

Although Trump touted his friendly relationship with Kim, the two sides failed to agree on a roadmap for North Korea's disarmament and what Pyongyang could receive in return.

Last week, North Korea's first deputy foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, vowed to ignore US attempts to establish contact until Washington has met Pyongyang's conditions, indicating any movement on the debate about its nuclear weapons programme remains a long way away.

According to media reports, the US has been trying to contact North Korea since mid-February.

Decades of sanctions and three summits between former Trump and North Korean leader Kim have failed to prevent Pyongyang from developing a larger and more deadly nuclear arsenal.

So President Biden is most likely shrugging off this latest missile test for good reason - there's a much bigger challenge ahead.

Senior US officials have separately said they considered the action as "most normal military activity by the North".

They added they were in the "final stages" of their North Korea policy review and planned to host Japan and South Korea's national security advisers for a discussion soon.

The US government had previously said it had been trying for weeks to make diplomatic contact with North Korea.

Pyongyang has yet to acknowledge that President Biden is now in office, and the two countries remain at loggerheads over the North's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

During Biden's election campaign, he called Kim "a thug" and said North Korean nuclear disarmament had to happen before US and UN economic sanctions could be relaxed.

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