US downplays North Korea 'missile firings'

North Korea reportedly fired two missiles on Sunday. US President Joe Biden suggested that he does not regard the launches as new provocations.

A South Korean military source says the North appears to have fired two cruise missiles from a site near Onchon in the western province of South Phyongan early Sunday.

US media quoted US government officials as saying North Korea had fired short-range missiles.

Biden downplayed Pyongyang's activity, saying "nothing much has changed." Replying to reporters who asked if the action was a provocation, he said, "No, according to the Defense Department it's business as usual," and that "There's no new wrinkle in what they did."

Senior Biden administration officials told reporters in a phone briefing that the launches were not covered by UN Security Council resolutions restricting ballistic missile program.

They see the action in the category of normal activity, and recognized the missile firings as falling on the low end of a menu of provocative activities.

The officials said they do not believe that it is in their best interest to hype the matter. They do not regard what took place as closing the door to dialogue, and that they don't want a situation in which Pyongyang perceives that the US is not open to talks.

The Biden administration is reviewing its North Korea policy and is working to establish contact with Pyongyang. North Korea said it will ignore such moves unless Washington abandons its hostile policies.