The US State Department said described the postponing of diplomatic talks between the US and North Korea as “purely a matter of scheduling” but refused to elaborate. (Nov. 7)
SEOUL – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the successful testing of a “newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon,” state media reported Friday.
KCNA News said that Kim supervised the high-tech weapon test at the country’s Academy of Defense Science. No details on the type of weapon were given.
The report said that Kim expressed “great satisfaction” at the test’s success and said that it was “a striking demonstration of the validity of the Party policy of prioritizing defense science and technology.”
The weapons test, the first one to be publicly announced since last year, comes as negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang over the communist nation’s nuclear weapons program are at an impasse.
North Korea had agreed to suspend nuclear and missile tests as part of its ongoing diplomatic efforts with South Korea and the U.S. The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Security revealed this week, however, that the North has at least 13 secret operating bases where the regime is continuing work on its ballistic missile program.
Pyongyang has also heated up its rhetoric recently, expressing anger over continuing economic sanctions and ongoing joint military exercises in South Korea.
Earlier this month, North Korea’s foreign ministry warned it could return to its “pyongjin” policy of simultaneous nuclear weapons and economic development if sanctions aren’t lifted.
North Korea has been seeking a phased process of sanctions relief for concessions in dismantling its nuclear arsenal. Pyongyang also wants a peace declaration to formally end the Korean War, which took place between 1950-1953 and was halted with an armistice.
However, the U.S. has maintained that complete denuclearization must take place before those conditions can be met.
Pyongyang also criticized the resumption of small-scale military drills by U.S. and South Korean marine earlier this month, calling for a halt to “all hostile acts.”
Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump signed a vaguely worded agreement in June at their historic summit in Singapore that promised to work toward a “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” but details remain scarce on how to achieve that goal. North Korea has made concessions, such as dismantling a nuclear test site, that critics say remain token gestures at best.
The State Department released a statement in response to North Korea’s latest weapons test, saying that the U.S. was confident that Pyongyang would still comply with the agreement reached in Singapore.
“We remain confident that the promises made by President Trump and Chairman Kim will be fulfilled,” a spokesman said in the statement.
North Korea abruptly canceled a scheduled meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York last week, but a second summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un is still planned for 2019, Vice President Mike Pence confirmed on Thursday.
Pence said the U.S. will not require North Korea to provide a complete list of its nuclear weapons and missile sites ahead of the meeting, dropping what had been seen as a key prerequisite.
In an interview with NBC in Singapore, where Pence is attending regional summits, the vice president said the goal of the next Trump-Kim meeting will be to come up with a verifiable plan for cataloging the North’s weapons programs.
“I think it will be absolutely imperative in this next summit that we come away with a plan for identifying all of the weapons in question, identifying all the development sites, allowing for inspections of the sites and the plan for dismantling nuclear weapons,” he said.
“Now we need to see results,” he added.
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