N. Korea fired new guided weapon as warning against South: state media

26, Jul. 2019

[Photo courtesy of Korea Media]
[Photo courtesy of Korea Media]

PYONGYAN, Kyodo - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the “demonstration” firing of a “new-type tactical guided weapon” on Thursday to send a warning to South Korea against holding a joint military drill with the United States next month, state-run media reported Friday.

The report came a day after Pyongyang launched two missiles into the Sea of Japan on Thursday morning that Seoul says were a new type of short-range ballistic missile, with the first flying about 430 kilometers and the second around 690 km.

The test was aimed at sending a “solemn warning to the south Korean military warmongers who are running high fever in their moves to introduce the ultramodern offensive weapons into south Korea and hold military exercise,” the Korean Central News Agency said.

North Korea has long called on the United States and South Korea to halt joint military drills, which Pyongyang regards as rehearsals for invasion.

North Korea has long called on the United States and South Korea to halt joint military drills, which Pyongyang regards as rehearsals for invasion.

Seoul should stop “suicidal” acts such as the introduction of ultramodern weapons and military exercises, Kim was quoted as saying by the news agency.

Regarding the test, Kim said North Korea's “development and possession of such state-of-the-art weaponry system is of huge eventful significance in developing our armed forces and guaranteeing the security of the country by military force,” according to KCNA.

The news agency also quoted Kim as saying, “We cannot but develop nonstop super powerful weapon systems to remove the potential and direct threats to the security of our country that exist in the south.”

North Korea recently said that it may reconsider its suspension of nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests if the United States and the South go ahead with joint drills as planned in August.

Thursday's missile launch was the first by North Korea since Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed at their June 30 meeting at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjeom that the two nations would resume stalled denuclearization talks within weeks.

The United States urged North Korea on Thursday to refrain from further provocations, with State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus expressing hope that the two sides will promote negotiations to address Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.

Some foreign affairs experts, however, say that the latest missile test-firing will make it more difficult for the United States and North Korea to restart denuclearization talks soon.

Speculation had grown that North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo might hold direct talks on the sidelines of this year's ASEAN Regional Forum in Bangkok on Aug. 2, but according to news reports, Ri has cancelled his attendance.

The annual regional security gathering, centered on the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is one of the very few multilateral events attended by North Korea, which has sent its foreign minister almost every year.

In early May, North Korea also fired what resembled Russia's Iskander surface-to-surface, short-range ballistic missiles on two occasions.

The second missile launched Thursday would be capable of reaching the whole of South Korea and parts of Japan, if an analysis by Seoul is correct.

U.N. Security Council resolutions have banned North Korea from using ballistic technology. Friday's KCNA report did not refer to Trump or the United States.