N Korea test fires new tactical guided weapon – state media

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International desk, April 18: International desk, April 18: North Korea says it has test-fired a new type of “tactical guided weapon”.A report, carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), gave few details but said the weapon came fitted with a “powerful warhead”.

This would be the first public weapons test since talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump ended without agreement.

North Korea made a similar claim last year in what observers saw as an attempt to apply pressure on the US.

Last week, Mr Kim said Mr Trump needed to have the “right attitude” for talks to continue after the summit between the two broke up in February.

According to KCNA, the test was overseen by Mr Kim himself.

The weapon has a “peculiar mode of guiding flight”, KCNA reported, adding that the test was “conducted in various modes of firing at different targets”.

Mr Kim said the development was “of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power of the People’s Army”.

No other details were given, including if it was a type of missile. But the word tactical implies that it is a short-range weapon rather than the long-range ballistic missiles seen as a threat to the US.

A second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February failed to make any progress toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Sanctions against the North over its nuclear and missiles programs remain in place.

Kim Dong-yub, a military expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul, said the description that the test was “conducted in various modes of firing at different targets” likely meant that it could be launched from the ground, sea and air.

“It’s highly likely that it’s a short-range cruise missile that can be transformed into a surface, an air-to-surface, an air-to-ship, a ship-to-ship, as well as a surface-to-surface cruise missile,” Kim Dong-yub said.

Kim Jong Un also oversaw the test of an unidentified tactical weapon in November that could protect North Korea like a “steel wall”, according to state media. It was not clear whether it was the same weapon tested this week.

Experts said in November it was part of Kim’s initiative to shift the mainstay of the North’s conventional military power from a nearly 1.3 million-strong army to high-tech weapons.

Kim Jong Un said in April 2018 North Korea would stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) because Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities had been “verified”.

Satellite images at North Korea’s main nuclear site last week showed movement, suggesting the country could be reprocessing radioactive material into bomb fuel.

The country claims to have developed a nuclear bomb small enough to fit on a long-range missile, as well as ballistic missiles that could potentially reach the mainland US.

North Korea analyst Ankit Panda noted that the latest announcement followed fresh US-South Korean military exercises, describing the reported test as “tit-for-tat”.

Source: News Agencies