In Brief

North Korea testing mystery ‘hi-tech’ weapon

Announcement by Kim Jong Un’s regime will further strain fragile dialogue with US

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is overseeing the testing of a “newly developed ultramodern” weapon, state-run media said today.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the test was successful, but provided no further details about the weapon other than that it was “tactical” and had been commissioned “personally” by Kim’s father and predecessor, Kim Jong Il. 

 The news agency said: “Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un was so excited to say that another great work was done by the defence scientists and munitions industrial workers to increase the defence capability of the country.

“He added that the weapon is just like a posthumous weapon and he missed Kim Jong Il very much while seeing the great success of its test.”  

If the new device proves to be a nuclear weapon, it could have a serious impact on fragile ongoing negotiations between North Korea and the US.

President Donald Trump met Kim in June for a much-touted summit in Singapore, where they discussed denuclearisation and economic sanctions. But little progress has been made since, and talks between US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and North Korean officials were cancelled days before they were due to take place in New York City earlier this month.

The testing of the mystery weapon is the first demonstration of its kind in almost a year, says CNN.  

“[Kim] is signalling that he’s not going to give way and can simply return to his old practices if [the US] doesn’t change their approach,” Josh Pollack, senior associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, told the news site.

Earlier this month, Pyongyang “criticised the resumption of small-scale military drills by US and South Korean marines” and called for a halt to “all hostile acts”, USA Today reports.

However, a report released this week by the Washington DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies revealed the existence of more than a dozen hidden military bases across North Korea that could potentially be used as ballistic missile launch sites.

With tensions rising, Vice President Mike Pence told NBC News that the US will continue planning a second summit. The priority would be “identifying all of the weapons in question, identifying all of the development sites, allowing for inspections of the sites and the plan for dismantling nuclear weapons”, Pence insisted. 

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