North Korea test-fires new weapon

Sunday, 21 Apr, 2019

Putin has expressed tacit support for Pyongyang, saying a year ago that "it seems counterproductive if we demand everything from the North Korean side and in response they are given nothing".

The Foreign Ministry said "no one can predict" the situation on the Korean peninsula if the United States does not abandon the "root cause" that compelled Pyongyang to develop its nuclear program, according to a statement quoting senior official Kwon Jong Gun, reported by the Korean Central News Agency and picked up by Reuters.

Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the United Nations Jang Il Hun, right, is joined by councilor Kwon Jong Gun as he speaks during a new conference, July 28, 2015, at the DPRK mission in NY.

Kim said "the completion of the development of the weapon system serves as an event of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power". South Korea also has similar missiles, called the "Hyunmoo-3", at its disposal.

"When North Korea launches a missile, our radar catches it", said the official, "but no missile was detected".

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will travel to Russian Federation later this month to meet President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said.

Earlier in the week, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a United States monitor, said activity had been detected at Yongbyon, the North's main nuclear testing facility.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr said Kim might be calculating that testing a short-range battlefield missile instead of a long-range ballistic missile won't be provocative enough to anger Trump while reminding him of the stakes at their third summit, if this does come about.

Instead, the North has carried out smaller provocations.

The country last conducted a tactical weapons test in November. U.S. officials are now saying they don't think the test was successful.

The announcement comes after North Korea said it had tested a new tactical weapon with a "powerful warhead", as denuclearisation talks with Washington appear to have stalled. -North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi, Feb. 28, 2019.

The test, which didn't appear to be of a banned mid- or long-range ballistic missile that could scuttle negotiations, allows North Korea to show its people it is pushing ahead with weapons development while also reassuring domestic military officials anxious that diplomacy with Washington signals weakness. Kim has only offered limited steps toward denuclearization. The rogue state's leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the operation, KNCA said.

Joseph Yun, who served as USA special representative for North Korea until previous year, said North Korea had always been dubious about Pompeo, seeing him as a hardline conservative skeptical of engagement with North Korea. "It shows that North Korea is going on, business as usual, after the failed Hanoi summit".

If it were, such a test would jeopardize discussions between North Korea and the USA, according to the AP. According to state media, Pompeo, while testifying before a Senate subcommittee, was asked if he would agree with the characterisation of Kim as a "tyrant".

"This looks like a new form of cruise missile", he said.

"Even if this is not a "missile" test the way we strictly define it, these people and MID are all sanctioned entities for a reason", Hanham said.

It was not clear how Kim might travel to Russian Federation, which shares a border with North Korea. Earlier this week, Trump said talks with North Korea "are moving along just perfectly".

A fresh round of UN Security Council sanctions was imposed as punishment after North Korea tested nuclear devices and intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2016 and 2017. "So that gives Trump room to ignore or downplay the test", said Jean Lee of the Washington, D.C. -based Wilson Center.

North Korea gave no details on the weapon that was tested on Wednesday.

Media reports have suggested Kim may visit Vladivostok, Russia, next week for a summit with President Vladimir Putin. President Trump has continued to emphasize the importance of his personal relationship with Kim.