North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has supervised the test-firing of a new tactical weapon with a ‘powerful warhead’, state media reported Thursday, in the first test of its kind since nuclear negotiations with Washington stalled, reports BSS/AFP.
The test marks a ratcheting up of tensions weeks after a summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump collapsed without agreement. It also comes after satellite imagery suggested heightened activity at a nuclear test site. Wednesday’s test was ‘conducted in various modes of firing at different targets’ the KCNA news outlet reported, adding that Kim ‘guided the test-fire’.
The report said Kim described its development as one ‘of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power of the People’s Army’.
The ‘advantages’ of the weapon were ‘the peculiar mode of guiding flight and the load of a powerful warhead’, KCNA said. The report gave no details of the weapon.
Missiles fired by the North have previously been tracked by the US and South Korean militaries, both of which closely watch events in the isolated nation. Neither made any immediate announcement in the wake of the report. ‘The description makes whatever was tested sound like a missile, but that could be everything from a small anti-tank guided missile to a surface-to-air missile to a rocket artillery system,’ said North Korea analyst Ankit Panda.
Earlier in the week, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a US monitor, said activity had been detected at Yongbyon, the North’s main nuclear testing facility. The think tank said evidence suggested Pyongyang may be reprocessing radioactive material into bomb fuel.
Kim’s Hanoi summit with Trump, the second between the two men, ended abruptly, with North Korea later protesting that the US was being unreasonable in its demands. Since then, North Korea has said it is mulling options for its diplomacy with the US, and Kim said last week he was open to talks with Trump only if Washington came with the ‘proper attitude’.
‘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.