ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
N Korea at crossroads

North Korea tests new 'tactical' weapon as talks with US stall

Analysts say Pyongyang used test to express frustration with Washington's stance

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leads the testing of a newly developed tactical weapon @KCNA/Reuters

SEOUL -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attended a test of an unspecified new "tactical" weapon, in a demonstration of the nation's military power as talks over the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula remain deadlocked.

State media reported Friday that Kim was satisfied with the test of the "ultramodern" weapon that has been in development since the time of Kim's late father, Kim Jong Il, who died in 2011. The Korean Central News Agency did not say what type of device had been tested, and South Korea's defense ministry said that it is analyzing the weapon.

"It will protect our territory tightly and strengthen capability of people's army significantly," KCNA said. "The test was successful by meeting all of its prominent and powerful conditions."

The announcement comes a day after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said that a second summit between President Donald Trump and Kim will likely take place next year. At their historical meeting in Singapore in June, the two leaders pledged to cooperate toward the denuclearization of the peninsula, without providing a detailed plan or timetable.

The U.S. has repeatedly called on the North to disclose its nuclear holdings and give inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency access to nuclear facilities. Pyongyang has said it is ready to accept inspections, but only in exchange for an end to sanctions and a joint declaration officially ending the Korean War.

Experts said that North Korea used the weapon test to express its frustration with the U.S.'s stance.

"North Korea seems to be upset that the U.S. is pushing it not to develop missiles even though they have not yet agreed on this," said Kim Jun-hyung, a professor at Handong Global University in Pohang, South Korea. "It will also pressure the U.S. to come to the table quickly."

Youngshik Bong, a researcher at Yonsei University's Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul, said the main purpose of the KCNA report was to pressure the U.S. to accept North Korea's demands on lifting sanctions.

Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS in Honolulu, speculated that the weapon is likely for defensive purposes.

"They made a point of describing it as an ultra modern defensive tactical weapon, i.e. not strategic (nuclear) or offensive but for the defense of the nation," said Cossa. "It's all business as usual, including KCNA highlighting Kim's every move and utterance."

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends January 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media