Saturday, 24 August, 2019

North Korea Tests New 'Tactical Guided Weapon'

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observing the flight drill of the combat pilots of Unit 1017 16 April North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observing the flight drill of the combat pilots of Unit 1017 16 April Credit AFP
Patty Aguilar | 24 April, 2019, 16:28

The term "tactical" sounds ominous, but it refers to short-range missiles of the type North Korea is not banned from developing under U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The US does not believe North Korea successfully launched a fully operational new weapon after Pyongyang claimed it had conducted a "new tactical guided weapons firing test" on Wednesday, according to a US official directly familiar with the latest assessment.

US military officials said they did not detect any significant missile launches on Wednesday and the North's description of the "newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon" suggested it might have instead been an anti-tank guided missile or other short-range system.

The "advantages" of the weapon were "the peculiar mode of guiding flight and the load of a powerful warhead", KCNA said.

The announcement came after reports of new activity at a North Korean missile research center and long-range rocket site where the North is believed to build long-range missiles targeting the USA mainland.

A US State Department spokesperson said Thursday they were "aware of the report" of Kwon's remarks.

Analysts in South Korea said North Korea was trying to send a message to the USA and South Korea.

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With Russia's Vladimir Putin set for his first talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this month, Moscow is eyeing a major role in yet another global flashpoint.

North Korea's message was directed at getting the U.S.to return to the negotiation table, Shin Beom Chul, the director of the Center for Security and Unification at Asan Institute for Policy Studies, in Seoul, South Korea, told ABC News.

Pompeo's recent attitude on talks between the USA and North Korea has been dismissive, and he has argued North Korea has already committed to everything that the U.S. wanted without getting sanctions relief, and the United States expects them to comply with the demands.

The test, which didn't appear to be of a banned mid- or long-range ballistic missile that could scuttle negotiations, allows North Korea to show its people it is pushing ahead with weapons development while also reassuring domestic military officials anxious that diplomacy with Washington signals weakness.

The test comes during an apparent deadlock in nuclear disarmament talks after the failed summit in Hanoi between Mr Kim and President Donald Trump earlier this year.

Melissa Hanham, a non-proliferation expert and director of the Datayo Project at the One Earth Future Foundation, said the North Korean weapon could be anything from an anti-tank weapon to a cruise missile. South Korea's presidential office said it has no immediate comment. "They are giving the USA till the end of this year to make a deal, but in the meantime, they will bolster their capabilities, untethered from any agreement". "That's called nuclear testing". In February, Trump cut the summit short, and the two leaders left without a deal. With U.S. negotiations stalled, Kim is likely to push Putin to provide economic aid and sanctions relief.

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