Regime’s leader says test of tactical guided weapon would increase the ‘combat power’ of the country
Guardian staff and agencies
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the testing of a new type of tactical guided weapon on Wednesday, state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Thursday.
It is North Korea’s first public weapons test since the second US-North Korea summit in Hanoi ended with no agreement in February.
KCNA did not describe exactly what the weapon is, including whether it was a missile or another type of weapon, but “tactical” implies a short-range weapon, as opposed to the long-range ballistic missiles that have been seen as a threat to the United States.
Nevertheless, the missile has a “peculiar mode of guiding flight” and “a powerful warhead,” KCNA said.
Kim said “the completion of the development of the weapon system serves as an event of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power” of the North Korean army, according to KCNA.
There was no immediate response to requests for comment from the White House, Pentagon or US State Department.
Last year, Kim had also overseen a test of an unidentified “tactical weapon” in November, according to state media, which could protect North Korea like a “steel wall”.
Last year, Kim had said North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles, because Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities had been “verified”.
The news of Kim’s visit to the tactical weapon testing site comes after the North Korean leader visited the North Korean Air and Anti-aircraft Force on Tuesday, according to KCNA, inspecting a flight drill and expressing “great satisfaction” at their combat readiness.
Meanwhile, satellite images from last week show movement at North Korea’s main nuclear site that could be associated with the reprocessing of radioactive material into bomb fuel, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in the United States said on Tuesday.
“Kim is trying to make a statement to the Trump administration that his military potential is growing by the day,” said Harry Kazianis, an analyst at the Center for the National Interest.
“His regime is becoming frustrated with Washington’s lack of flexibility in recent negotiations.”
Koh Yu-hwan, professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University, agreed the test was a message to the US showing its displeasure over the stalled nuclear talks.
But the fact that it was not a long-range missile or nuclear test “underscores Pyongyang wants to keep alive dialogue with Washington”, he added.
With Reuters and Agence France-Presse