Mon, 27 May 2019

North Korea tests new weapon ahead of Kim Jong Un-Putin meeting

William Gallo - Voa News
18 Apr 2019, 10:02 GMT+10

SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea has tested a new "tactical guided weapon," the latest display of Pyongyang's military capabilities, state media reported Thursday.

Kim Jong Un supervised and guided the test, calling it an operation of "very weighty significance," the official Korean Central News Agency said.

The report did not elaborate on the type of weapon, but the phrase "tactical" suggests it is not a long-range ballistic missile. U.S. officials have not commented on the test.

"The design indexes of the tactical guided weapon, whose advantages are appreciated for the peculiar mode of guiding flight and the load of a powerful warhead, were perfectly verified at the test-fire conducted in various modes of firing at different targets," KCNA said.

North Korea has not carried out a major provocation such as a nuclear or long-range missile test for well over a year, since Kim began talks with the United States and South Korea.

Instead, the North has carried out smaller provocations. In November, Kim oversaw the test of what KCNA also referred to as a newly developed "high-tech tactical weapon." U.S. officials later played down the significance of that test.

Nuclear talks between the United States and North Korea have been stalled since a February meeting in Hanoi between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump ended in no deal.

Trump wants Kim to completely abandon his nuclear weapons program in exchange for sanctions relief. Kim has only offered limited steps toward denuclearization.

Last week, Kim said he was open to another summit with Trump, but warned he would only give the U.S. until the end of the year to change its "approach" to the negotiations.

A North Korean official said last month that Kim is considering resuming missile tests and pulling out of the talks with the United States.

Meanwhile, commercial satellite photos from last week showed increased activity at North Korea’s main nuclear site, according to a U.S. research organization.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies noted the presence of five specialized railcars at the Yongbyon nuclear complex.

"In the past, these specialized railcars appear to have been associated with the movement of radioactive material or reprocessing campaigns," the report said.

Also Wednesday, Kim carried out a public inspection of a military unit for the first time in several months, reviewing a flight exercise of the Korean People’s Army.

Kim is expected to meet next week with Russian President Vladimir Putin. With U.S. negotiations stalled, Kim is likely to push Putin to provide economic aid and sanctions relief.

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