North Korea tests new high-tech weapon

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-46231372

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) inspecting the test ground of the Academy of Defence ScienceImage copyright
AFP

Image caption

This picture released by state media showed Mr Kim surrounded by officials, but no weapons were visible

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has supervised the successful test of a new “high-tech” tactical weapon, state-run media say.

The KCNA news agency gave no details on the type of the weapon, saying only it had been developed over a long period.

But it is the first known inspection of a major weapons test in a year.

In a summit in June Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump agreed the Korean peninsula should denuclearise, but a detailed plan was never set out.

North Korean state media have provided no details as to what kind of weapon this was, but it comes shortly after a report based on satellite imagery identified the extent of North’s complex network of missile bases around the country.

South Korea says it is in the process of analysing what the weapon is, but many have pointed out that the North made no commitment to halt any weapons development or shut down its missile bases.

Responding to the inspection, a US State Department spokesman said they “remained confident that the promises made by President Trump and Chairman Kim will be fulfilled”.

What did the North’s media say?

“Kim Jong-un inspected the testing of a newly developed high-tech tactical weapon at the Academy of National Defence Science,” the KCNA reported.

“The testing of the high-tech tactical weapon has been carried out successfully.”

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Kim Jong-un expressed “great satisfaction” over “state-of-the-art” weapon, North Korea’s media say

The news agency added that Mr Kim expressed “great satisfaction” over the “state-of-the-art” weapon that “builds impregnable defences of our country and strengthens the fighting power of our people’s army”.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s unification ministry said it was Mr Kim’s first known inspection of a testing site since he was present at the launch of the Hwasong-15 intercontinental missile in November 2017.

The ministry said it believed this time Mr Kim was supervising the test of a traditional weapon because the term “strategic weapon” was not used by the KCNA.

Didn’t North Korea say they would denuclearise?

Yes and no. At the Singapore summit in June, both Mr Trump and Mr Kim agreed to work towards denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.

But the agreement did not include any timeline, details or mechanisms to verify the process. Both countries have also never agreed on the goalposts of “denuclearisation”.

Pyongyang has been clear from the start that it would not unilaterally disarm. But the US has also made it clear that there will be no sanctions relief until “complete denuclearisation”.

Talks appear to have stalled since then, and discussions aimed at setting up a second summit between both leaders failed to materialise.

Last week Mr Kim’s aide, Kim Yong-chol, was supposed to travel to New York and meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

But the BBC understands that the meeting was cancelled after the State Department discovered that the North Koreans did not get on the plane as planned.

However, the US still maintains that another summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump will take place early next year.