North Korea’s Kim oversees test of new weapon with ‘powerful warhead’

People watch a TV news program reporting about North Korea's test-fire of a "new-type tactical guided weapon," with a file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, on April 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Updated 18 April 2019
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North Korea’s Kim oversees test of new weapon with ‘powerful warhead’

  • Satellite imagery suggests heightened activity at a nuclear test site
  • But South Korea says it had not detected anything on radar

SEOUL, South Korea: North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has supervised the test-firing of a new tactical weapon with a “powerful warhead,” state media reported Thursday, in the first test of its kind since nuclear negotiations with Washington stalled.
The test marks a ratcheting up of tensions weeks after a summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump collapsed without agreement.
It also comes after satellite imagery suggested heightened activity at a nuclear test site.
Wednesday’s test was “conducted in various modes of firing at different targets” the Korean Central News Agency reported, adding that Kim “guided the test-fire.”
The report said Kim described its development as one “of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power of the People’s Army.”
The “advantages” of the weapon were “the peculiar mode of guiding flight and the load of a powerful warhead,” KCNA said.
Its report gave no details of the weapon.
South Korea had not detected anything on radar so it was unlikely to have been a missile, a military official told AFP.
“When North Korea launches a missile, our radar catches it. But no missile was detected,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Seoul’ presidential office said it had no comment.
“The description makes whatever was tested sound like a missile, but that could be everything from a small anti-tank guided missile to a surface-to-air missile to a rocket artillery system,” said North Korea analyst Ankit Panda.
Earlier in the week, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a US monitor, said activity had been detected at Yongbyon, the North’s main nuclear testing facility.
The think tank said evidence suggested Pyongyang may be reprocessing radioactive material into bomb fuel.
Kim’s Hanoi summit with Trump, the second between the two men, ended abruptly, with North Korea later protesting that the US was being unreasonable in its demands.
Since then, North Korea has said it is mulling options for its diplomacy with the US, and Kim said last week he was open to talks with Trump only if Washington came with the “proper attitude.”
“Kim is trying to make a statement to the Trump administration that his military potential is growing by the day,” said Harry Kazianis, an analyst at the Washington-based Center for the National Interest.
“His regime is becoming frustrated with Washington’s lack of flexibility in recent negotiations.”
Koh Yu-hwan, professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University, agreed the test was a message to the US showing its displeasure over the stalled nuclear talks.
But the fact that it was not a long-range missile or nuclear test “underscores Pyongyang wants to keep alive dialogue with Washington,” he added.
“Pyongyang cannot conduct a nuclear or long-range missile launch at this point unless it wants to totally shatter what remains of the US-North talks,” he continued.
Pentagon officials said they were aware of the test report but declined to comment further.
Last November, KCNA reported that Kim oversaw the testing of a “newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon” months after his first meeting with Trump.
It was the first official report of a weapons test by North Korea since Kim and Trump’s historic summit in Singapore over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile program.
The North’s latest weapon test report comes after South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Monday he wanted a fresh meeting with Kim “regardless of venue and form.”
Pyongyang has yet to respond to Moon’s overture.
Moon, who has long backed engagement with the nuclear-armed North, has been pushing for the resumption of inter-Korean economic projects, but doing so would fall foul of international sanctions imposed on Pyongyang.


Khan’s visit opens ‘new chapter’ in ties with US, says minister

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hold a meeting in Washington, DC. (AFP)
Updated 24 July 2019
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Khan’s visit opens ‘new chapter’ in ties with US, says minister

  • Analysts believe Bajwa will play a key role in behind-the-scenes discussions, with the military looking to persuade Washington to restore aid and cooperation

ISLAMABAD: A “new chapter” had been opened in ties between the US and Pakistan, said Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday, a day after US President Donald Trump welcomed Pakistani Premier Imran Khan to the White House to mend relations and seek help in ending the 18-year-old war in neighboring Afghanistan.
Seated next to Khan in the Oval Office on Monday, Trump spoke about improving trade with Pakistan and said he expected Khan would help to negotiate peace in Afghanistan so that US troops could come home.
“We have seen a new beginning; a new chapter is being opened,” Qureshi said at a press conference in Washington. “We should take this positively and hope that things will get better,” he said, adding that Pakistan was focused on “economic diplomacy” and wanted to boost trade with the US.
“The world looks at economics and looks for ways to cater to its own economic needs, so we will try that we also move forward in that direction,” Qureshi said, adding that Trump had accepted Khan’s invitation to visit Pakistan.
During Monday’s meeting, Trump spoke of possibly restoring $1.3 billion in American aid that he had cut last year. Both the leaders also discussed ways to boost bilateral trade as President Trump said the US was willing to invest more in Pakistan and wanted to expand trade by up to 20 times.
Trump also said bilateral relations had improved in recent months. “To be honest, we have a better relationship with Pakistan right now than we did when we were paying the money,” he said, referring to last year’s decision to suspend US security assistance to Pakistan to compel it to crack down on militants.
The comments were a far cry from last year when Trump had complained on Twitter that the Pakistanis “have given us nothing but lies & deceit” and “give safe haven” to militants. Pakistan has denied the accusations.
Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, who accompanied Khan to Washington, also met the top American military officer, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford.

Analysts believe Bajwa will play a key role in behind-the-scenes discussions, with the military looking to persuade Washington to restore aid and cooperation.

Commenting on the Khan-Trump meeting, foreign affairs expert Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi said both sides wanted to improve the bilateral relationship through a new framework, the details of which would be settled in the next few months through meetings between officials of the two governments.
“American support to Pakistan will depend on two things, to what extent Pakistan is willing to facilitate agreement with the [Afghan] Taliban and the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, and secondly if Pakistan continues action against militants on its soil,” Askari said.
“Pakistan’s military to military and civilian government’s relationship with the US will improve manifold in the coming months if we stop pursuing a dual-track approach,” Rizvi said, referring to accusations in the past that Pakistan was selective in its crackdown on terrorists.
After a one-on-one meeting with Khan, President Trump said he could win the Afghan war in just 10 days by wiping out Afghanistan but did not want to kill 10 million people.
“There is no military solution in Afghanistan,” Khan said in agreement. “If you go all-out military, there would be millions and millions of people who would die.”
“I think Pakistan is going to do a lot (with respect to Afghanistan),” Trump said. “I really do. I think Pakistan is going to make a big difference.”