President Donald Trump says sanctions against North Korea will continue for now. In an Oval Office meeting with the South Korean President, he said the sanctions aimed at Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear weapons program are at a “fair” level. (April 11)
WASHINGTON – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the testing of a new “tactical guided weapon” on Wednesday, according to the country’s state-run news outlet KCNA.
The move marks North Korea’s first publicly announced weapons test in more than a year and comes amid growing signs that Kim has soured on his negotiations with President Donald Trump. Those talks collapsed in Hanoi in February, after Trump and Kim failed to reach an agreement on North Korean denuclearization in exchange for international sanctions relief.
The KCNA report did not detail what kind of weapon the North Koreans tested but said the event was “of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power” of the country’s military.
The White House did not immediately comment on the development.
Trump has said he’s not in a hurry to press North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal as long as Kim doesn’t test his regime’s nuclear and missile weapons.
“As long as there’s no testing, I’m in no rush,” Trump told reporters in February as he prepared for a summit with Kim in Hanoi. “If there’s testing, that’s another deal.”
At the Hanoi summit, Kim offered to dismantle North Korea’s main nuclear facility, Yongbyan, in exchange for major sanctions relief. Trump rejected that, instead pushing Kim to give up North Korea’s entire stockpile of nuclear bombs, missiles and other capabilities, in exchange for full sanctions relief.
The talks ended abruptly, with Trump leaving Vietnam early. In March, a top North Korean official suggested that Kim might quit the talks and restart nuclear and missile tests.
Experts said Wednesday’s news out of North Korea was worrisome.
“Kim is trying to make a statement to the Trump Administration that his military potential is growing by the day, and that his regime is becoming frustrated with Washington’s lack of flexibility in recent negotiations,” said Harry Kazianis, a North Korea expert with Center for the National Interest, a Washington-based foreign policy think tank.
“We are only one ICBM test away from another crisis with Pyongyang, and these smaller tests only bring us closer to such a moment,” he added.
The KCNA report said Kim “mounted an observation post to learn about a plan of the test-fire of the new-type tactical guided weapon and guided the test-fire.” The weapon has a “peculiar mode of guiding flight” and the load of “a powerful warhead” was verified at the test fire, the state-run outlet reported.
Contributing: David Jackson
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