Saturday, 17 August, 2019

Kremlin says Kim Jong Un will visit Russia this month

A view of what researchers of Beyond Parallel a CSIS project describe as a probably 20-foot shipping container near the uranium enrichment plant at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center in North Pyongan Province North Korea in this commercial satellite North Korea reportedly tests new tactical guided weapon
Russell Knight | 18 April, 2019, 21:23

The KCNA also quoted Kim as saying that "active progress in our own weapons systems is a very good development", and claimed Wednesday's test proved the new system is fully functional.

Earlier Thursday, North Korea announced it had test-fired a new tactical guided weapon, in its first public weapons test since the summit.

Since the beginning of the thaw in relations between the U.S. and North Korea, Pyongyang has been far happier to deal directly with Trump, who critics fear is too soft on the regime and is not sufficiently versed in diplomacy.

The Kremlin's announcement comes after North Korea announced it had tested a new tactical weapon with a "powerful warhead", as those denuclearisation talks with Washington appear to stall. North Korean media said Wednesday that Kim guided a flight drill of combat pilots from an air force and anti-aircraft unit tasked with defending the North from an attack.

The operation on Thursday marked the first publicized weapons' test since the Hanoi talks between Kim and US President Donald Trump fell through in February.

By visiting Russia, Kim is trying to demonstrate to the US that he is not isolated, if matters don't work out with Trump, said Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert and professor at Kookmin University in Seoul.

North Korea suspended nuclear and missile testing during the diplomatic process in 2018 but the International Atomic Energy Agency has said there were indications that Yongbyon has been in use as recently as the end of February.

A USA military official said late Wednesday the Pentagon is aware of the reported test, but has no further comment. North Korea's foreign ministry accused Pompeo of playing down the significance of Kim's comments.

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"I wish our dialogue counterpart would be not Pompeo but".

Analysts in South Korea said North Korea was trying to send a message to the USA and South Korea. -North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi, Feb. 28, 2019.

It is not the first time North Korea has singled out Pompeo for special criticism.

For Kim, meeting Putin may allow him to expand his options in talks with Trump and also balance the influence of China, the main ally and sponsor of the communist North. The Pyongyang-based Munitions Industry Department is sanctioned both by the United States and the U.N. Security Council.

US national security adviser John Bolton said in a Bloomberg News interview on Wednesday the United States needed to see "a real indication from North Korea that they've made the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons" before a third summit between Trump and Kim. "As long as there's no testing, we're happy".

After the animosity of 2017, last year saw a stunning turn to diplomacy, culminating in the first-ever summit between the USA and North Korea in Singapore, and then the Hanoi talks this year.

Regarding Washington's cooperation with Seoul on the matter, Bolton said the U.S. has "tried to stay very close to the government of South Korea", and is closely following Moon's plans for an inter-Korean summit. "If it's a new form of cruise missile, it's irrelevant to sanctions, because the current United Nations sanctions are about ballistic missiles".

Meanwhile, commercial satellite photos from last week showed increased activity at North Korea's main nuclear site, according to a US research organization.

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