New ‘ultramodern tactical weapon’ tested by North Korea
SEOUL – Agence France-Presse
This general view shows an explosion as part of the dismantlement at a South Korean guard post in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas in Cheorwon on Nov. 15, as a North Korean guard post (L top) is seen.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has overseen the testing of a “newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon,” Pyongyang’s state media reported on Nov. 16, a move seen by analysts as more of a political message than a serious provocation.
It marked the first official report of a weapons test by North Korea since it began a delicate diplomatic process with Washington over its nuclear and missile program.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, quoting an unidentified government source, said the weapon could be a long-range cannon that the North has been developing for many years.
“Kim Jong Un... visited the test ground of the Academy of Defence Science and supervised a newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon test,” said the official Korean Central News Agency. It said the test was successful but did not specify the type of device involved.
Pyongyang’s suspension of testing for atomic weapons and ballistic missiles has been key to this year’s rapid diplomatic developments and North Korea-U.S. negotiations, and has been repeatedly praised by President Donald Trump.
Trump and Kim met at a historic summit in Singapore in June, where they signed a vaguely worded document on denuclearization of the peninsula.
Hours after the KCNA report, the U.S. State Department said it was “confident” the process remained on track. “At the Singapore Summit, President Trump and Chairman Kim made a number of commitments regarding final, fully verified denuclearization and creating a brighter future for North Korea,” a statement said. “We are talking about implementing all of those commitments. We remain confident that the promises made by President Trump and Chairman Kim will be fulfilled.”
Progress since Singapore has stalled as Washington and Pyongyang spar over the document’s meaning. A return to testing would cast grave doubts over the future of the process.
But analysts all but ruled out the North having broken its promise to suspend nuclear or missile launches while negotiations are underway with the U.S.
There was no immediate indication any such test had been detected by the South.
“We don’t see it as a military provocation of any significance”, a defense ministry official told journalists without saying what the device was.
KCNA released only one photograph to accompany its report, showing uniformed men taking notes as Kim talked. The background gave few clues to what kind of weapon was involved.
Kim expressed “great satisfaction” and said the test marked a “decisive turn in bolstering the fighting capacity” of the North’s military, KCNA said.
The weapon had been developed over a long period and its “great success serves as another striking demonstration of the validity of the Party policy of prioritizing defense science and technology,” it added.