North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has overseen the testing of a “newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon”, Pyongyang’s state media reported, in a move that will raise the temperature over denuclearisation talks.
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 programme.
“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 nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles has been key to this year’s rapid diplomatic developments and North Korean-US negotiations, and has been repeatedly praised by President Donald Trump.
Kim expressed “great satisfaction” and said the test marks a “decisive turn in bolstering the fighting capacity” of the North’s military, KCNA said.The “ultramodern tactical 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 prioritising defence science and technology and the rapidly developing defence capability”, it added.
The news came almost a year after Pyongyang’s last test of an intercontinental ballistic missile and recalled the repeated announcements of 2017, which included by far its most powerful nuclear blast to date and rockets that brought the whole of the US mainland into range.
Pyongyang is demanding sanctions imposed against it over its weapons programmes are eased and has condemned US demands for what it calls its “unilateral” disarmament as “gangster-like”.
Washington insists the measures should stay in place until the North’s “final, fully verified” denuclearisation.
Professor Yang Moo-jin of the University of North Korea Studies in Seoul said that the test was “a signal to the US sent ahead of the high level talks that its own patience is also wearing thin”.