Date
15 December 2018
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un leads the testing of a newly developed tactical weapon in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on Friday. Photo: KCNA via Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un leads the testing of a newly developed tactical weapon in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency on Friday. Photo: KCNA via Reuters

North Korea’s Kim inspects testing of new ‘tactical’ weapon

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected the testing of a newly developed tactical weapon, calling it “another display of our rapidly-growing defense capabilities to the whole region”, North Korean state media said on Friday.

It was the first mention by state media of a new development in North Korea’s weapons program in months, Reuters said.

“This result today is a justification of the party’s policy focused on defense science and technology, another display of our rapidly-growing defense capabilities to the whole region, and a groundbreaking change in strengthening our military’s combat capabilities,” Kim said.

KCNA said the test was successful.

Washington did not appear concerned over the latest development.

“We remain confident that the promises made by President Trump and Chairman Kim will be fulfilled,” a spokesman for the US State Department said in a statement after the weapons testing.

Kim said that the weapons system tested was one that his father, Kim Jong-il, was especially interested during his lifetime and led the development of personally.

This is Kim’s first field visit to a testing site since his unprecedented summit with US President Donald Trump in June, when the two leaders agreed to work toward denuclearization and peace on the Korean peninsula, and to establish new relations between the United States and North Korea.

The agreement was short on specifics, and negotiations have made little headway since, however.

A North Korean delegation is currently in South Korea visiting economic-related sites as part of inter-Korean reconciliation efforts.

Any testing of new weapons is likely to raise tensions with Washington, which has said there will be no easing in international sanctions until North Korea takes more concrete steps to abandon its nuclear weapons or long-range missiles.

Trump on Tuesday criticized what he called “inaccurate” media reports that North Korea had not declared an estimated 20 missile bases and added in a tweet: “I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!”

US Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday Trump plans to meet Kim again in 2019 and will push for a concrete plan outlining Pyongyang’s moves to end its arms programs.

“The plans are ongoing. We believe that the summit will likely occur after the first of the year, but the when and the where of that is still being worked out,” Pence told reporters after meeting South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Singapore.

In a separate interview with NBC News, Pence said the US would not require Pyongyang to provide a complete list of nuclear weapons and locations before the second summit but that the meeting must produce a concrete plan.

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CG

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