North Korea is testing a new ‘high-tech’ tactical weapon, according to reports.
According to KCNA, North Korea’s state-run news agency, Kim Jong-un supervised the successful test, though details of the new ‘state-of-the-art’ weapon were not revealed.
Experts believe the weapon could be a missile, artillery, an anti-air gun, a drone or other high-tech conventional weapons systems.
Kim Jong-un called the test ‘another display of our rapidly-growing defence capabilities to the whole region’.
Even if this was intended as a message for Washington and Seoul, Friday’s report was noticeably less belligerent than past announcements of weapons tests, and did not focus on North Korean claims of US and South Korean hostility.
This is thought to be the first official report by North Korea of weapons testing in a year.
In June, Kim Jong-un agreed the Korean peninsula would denuclearise in a summit with US President Donald Trump, but a detailed plan was never agreed.
It is thought that another summit between the two leaders will take place early next year.
Earlier this month, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry warned it could bring back its policy of bolstering its nuclear arsenal if it does not receive sanctions relief.
“It’s North Korea-style coercive diplomacy. North Korea is saying ‘If you don’t listen to us, you will face political burdens’,” said analyst Shin Beomchul of Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies.
Diplomacy has stalled since the summit between Mr Kim and the US president, with Washington pushing for more action on nuclear disarmament and the North insisting that the US first approve a peace declaration formally ending the Korean War and lift sanctions.
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Yang Wook, a Seoul-based military expert, said a “tactical weapon” in North Korea refers to “a weapon aimed at striking South Korea including US military bases” there, so the North may have tested a short-range missile or a multiple rocket launch system.
Mr Yang said the latest North Korean test will not completely break down nuclear diplomacy, though more questions would be raised about how sincere the North is about its commitment to denuclearisation.
Asked about the test, the US State Department said that American and North Korean officials are talking about implementing the commitments that Mr Trump and Mr Kim made during their June meeting in Singapore.
Important meeting today with S. Korean President @moonriver365 about our ongoing efforts to accomplish our shared goals of achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea and establishing a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. #VPinAsia pic.twitter.com/BfXqg4FWuZ
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) 15 November 2018
US vice president Mike Pence, attending a Southeast Asian summit in Singapore, cited the “great progress” made on North Korea but said more had to be done.
A year and a half ago, “nuclear tests were taking place, missiles were flying over Japan and there were threats and propagations against our nation and nations in the region,” Mr Pence said.
“Today, no more missiles are flying, no more nuclear tests, our hostages have come home, and North Korea has begun anew to return fallen American heroes from the Korean War to our soil. We made great progress but there’s more work to be done,” he said.
Mr Pence stressed that UN sanctions had to remain enforced.