Kim Jong Un conducts overseas test of new North Korean weapon
Analysts say Pyongyang is sending a message to Donald Trump
North Korea has fired a new tactical guided weapon in a test Kim Jong Un says has “very weighty significance”.
The launch, the first since the country’s summit with the US ended without an agreement in Vietnam in February, is shrouded in secrecy. State media said only that the weapon had a “peculiar mode of guiding flight” and “a powerful warhead”.
Although it has not been revealed if the test was of a missile, most observers agree it is likely to be a short-range weapon and that it is unlikely to mark a return to the long-range missile tests.
Sky News says the test is “a warning” to the US and an attempt to “grab America's attention”. On Twitter, the North Korea analyst Ankit Panda linked the move to recent US-South Korean military exercises, describing the launch as “another tit-for-tat”.
Since the nuclear disarmament summit in Hanoi between Kim and US President Donald Trump broke down earlier this year, the two sides have had little reported contact.
But Trump has previously said he fell “in love” with Pyongyang's leader and that they could hold further talks.
The White House said it was aware of the launch report and had no comment. The US Strategic Command and US Northern Command say they haven't detected any missile.
The announcement of the test came after reports of new activity at a site where the North was believed to have built long-range missiles.
Earlier this week, Kim visited the North Korean air force, inspecting a military drill and expressing “great satisfaction” at their combat readiness.
Analysts agree that the test was a message to Washington but have varied theories on what that message was. “Kim is trying to make a statement to the Trump administration that his military potential is growing by the day,” said Harry Kazianis, of the Center for the National Interest.
While Koh Yu-hwan, professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University, agreed the test was a message to the US, he added that the fact that it was not a long-range missile or nuclear test “underscores that Pyongyang wants to keep alive dialogue with Washington”.
Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph claims that North Korea has sent teams to neighbouring China to track down and kill, if necessary, as many as seven members of the ministry of state security who have fled in a “snowballing” series of defections.