BFF-01,02 N. Korea tested rocket launchers and ‘tactical guided weapons’





N. Korea tested rocket launchers and ‘tactical guided weapons’

SEOUL, May 5, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – North Korea’s state media said Sunday that
leader Kim Jong Un had overseen a rocket and tactical guided weapons test,
after the drill Saturday had raised concerns Pyongyang was escalating
provocations with US nuclear negotiations deadlocked.

The North last carried out a missile test in November 2017, before a rapid
diplomatic rapprochement saw tensions ease on the peninsula and a series of

A return to missile launches would be likely to infuriate US President
Donald Trump, but the North’s official KCNA news agency shied away from the
term in its report, saying Kim had ordered a “strike drill” involving “long-
range multiple rocket launchers” — which are not targeted by UN sanctions
resolutions — and unspecified “tactical guided weapons”.

Seoul’s military described the weapons as “projectiles” after it detected
Saturday’s firing.

The United States and North Korea have been at loggerheads since the
collapse of a Trump-Kim summit in February, when the two sides clashed over
sanctions and the extent of Pyongyang’s concessions on its atomic arsenal.

But despite the latest sabre-rattling from Pyongyang, Trump insisted that a
breakthrough was possible.

“Kim Jong Un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea, &
will do nothing to interfere or end it,” Trump tweeted.

“He also knows that I am with him & does not want to break his promise to
me. Deal will happen!”

The US leader did not elaborate on Kim’s promise.

During Saturday’s drill Kim urged his troops to remember “the iron truth
that genuine peace and security are ensured and guaranteed only by powerful
strength”, KCNA said.

The state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Sunday carried 16 photos of the
weapons test on its front page, including a picture of a grim-looking Kim
clutching his binoculars in an observation post as well as several images of
projectiles shooting skywards.

– Broken promises? –

Trump proclaimed that the North Korean nuclear threat was over after the
two sides’ historic first summit in Singapore in June, when Kim pledged to
work towards “complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

The two have since disagreed over what that means, but Trump has insisted
the leaders remain close even after their follow-up meeting in Vietnam broke
up without a deal or even a joint statement, and that Kim would maintain his
moratorium on long-range missile and nuclear tests.

But with negotiations lagging, the North appears to be testing the US while
staying below that threshold.

MORE/MSY/0757 hrs




The Saturday drill followed last month’s test-firing of very short-range
tactical weapons, and came days after a senior North Korean diplomat
chastised US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for making “foolish and
dangerous” comments during nuclear talks.

Analysts said Pyongyang appears intent on raising pressure on Washington.

“Kim wants to ensure the world knows it is upset with the US hardline
stance on denuclearisation and will not bow to external pressure,” said Scott
Seaman of the Eurasia Group.

– ‘Unwanted outcome’ –

But Ankit Panda of the Federation of American Scientists stressed that the
projectile launch “does not violate Kim Jong Un’s self-imposed missile-
testing moratorium”, which “only applied to intercontinental-range ballistic

Even so, a statement from Seoul’s presidential Blue House said it was
“greatly concerned,” calling it a violation of a military agreement signed by
both Koreas last year.

On Friday, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Pyongyang
should show “visible, concrete and substantial” denuclearisation action if it
wants sanctions relief — the issue at the centre of the Hanoi debacle.

Earlier this week, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui warned
Washington of an “unwanted outcome” if it did not adjust its stance on
economic sanctions.

– Biegun visit –

Since the collapse of the Hanoi summit, South Korean president Moon Jae-in
— who brokered the first meeting between the mercurial US and North Korean
leaders — has tried to salvage diplomacy, but Pyongyang has remained largely

Last week, on the anniversary of the first Panmunjom summit between Moon
and Kim, KCNA said Washington and Seoul “keep pushing the situation of the
Korean peninsula and the region to an undesirable phase”, criticising their
joint military exercises.

The North Korean drill comes just days before US special representative
Stephen Biegun is to visit Japan and South Korea for talks on Pyongyang’s
nuclear arsenal.

BSS/AFP/MSY/0757 hrs