See More on Facebook

Diplomacy

NK’s new weapons development a message to Seoul, US

Pyongyang also asks that Pompeo be removed from future negotiations.


Written by

Updated: April 19, 2019

North Korea on Thursday reported the development of a new tactical weapons system, adding uncertainty to the situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula.

According to the North’s Korean Central News Agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended the testing of a newly developed guided tactical weapons system on Wednesday, and applauded the development as having a “very big significance” in strengthening the country’s military capabilities.

The KCNA also quoted Kim as saying that “active progress in our own weapons systems is a very good development,” and claimed Wednesday’s test proved the new system is fully functional.

Details have not been made public, but the newly developed weapon is believed to be a short-range guided missile, or a land-to-land precision missile.

Seoul’s Ministry of National Defense declined to provide details on the matter, saying the ministry was aware of related developments and that collected information is being analyzed. The Ministry of Unification also declined to comment, though it said it is keeping a close eye on North Korea.

The KCNA also reported Thursday that North Korea’s Foreign Ministry no longer wishes to deal with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“If dialogue with the US is resumed, I only hope that someone other than Pompeo, someone who can communicate with us more easily and more familiar will be our counterpart,” Kwon Jong-gun, a North Korean Foreign Ministry official in charge of US affairs said in an interview with the KCNA.

He blamed Pompeo for the failure of the US-North Korea summit in Hanoi and said that his further involvement would disrupt negotiations.

“What is fortunate is that the chairman and President Trump’s personal relationship remains good, and that the chairman is happy about having a close relationship with President Trump,” he added.

While the South Korean government remains tight-lipped about the weapons test, experts say the test and North Korean media reports carry a message for Seoul and Washington.

“North Korea is saying that it will maintain military readiness. At the same time, it is showing that it will not do something that will end negotiations, such as a missile or nuclear test,” said Cha Du-hyeogn, a visiting scholar at Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies, adding that the North wants to show it will not negotiate from a weaker position.

According to Cha, recent developments in North Korea and Seoul-Washington relations do not bode well for President Moon Jae-in’s hopes to mediate between Pyongyang and Washington.

Following his summit with US President Donald Trump last week, Moon has called for preparations to be made for a fourth inter-Korean summit, in an apparent move to mediate between Kim and Trump.

Kim, meanwhile, has criticized Seoul’s efforts to work as a mediator and facilitator in the US-North Korea negotiations.

“South Korea is likely to have brought up sanctions (in the summit) but the US has said that it is too early to ease sanctions. The only thing the US has taken onboard is that a flexible approach may be possible; that a big deal may not be the only option,” Cha said.

He said that with the US taking such a position, Pyongyang is likely to feel that the South Korean government has little influence over Washington’s position.

“Even with a small deal, it means (the US is saying) do not ask for sweeping sanctions relief. This is a repeat of the Hanoi summit.”

The Feb. 27-28 US-North Korea summit ended without an agreement, which, according to the US, was unavoidable as Kim demanded effectively full sanctions relief in return for a limited portion of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

As for the US, it is hoping for more concrete evidence of intent to denuclearize from North Korea before pursuing further summit-level talks.

In an interview with Bloomberg, national security adviser John Bolton said that while Trump is open to a third summit with Kim, North Korea needs to prove its commitment.

“I think a real indication from North Korea that they’ve made the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons,” Bolton was quoted as saying by Bloomberg when asked what the US needs to see.

“The president is fully prepared to have a third summit if he can get a real deal,” Bolton said.

Asked if progress has been made in denuclearization, Bolton said, “I wouldn’t say we could say that at this point.”

Regarding Washington’s cooperation with Seoul on the matter, Bolton said the US has “tried to stay very close to the government of South Korea,” and is closely following Moon’s plans for an inter-Korean summit.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: ANN’s Board member Mr Zaffar Abbas, Editor of Pakistan’s Dawn has won the 2019 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protest Journalists.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy

China pledges international pandemic aid

 Producers of medical goods urged to meet demand from affected countries. China has pledged to do its best to offer aid to countries and international organisations affected by COVID-19 to help contain the outbreak, and businesses are being urged to boost production of epidemic prevention materials to meet demand from abroad. The announcement was made at a meeting of the leading group of China’s coronavirus response, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday. Relevant departments and local authorities must step up co-ordination to closely monitor and analyse the quick spread of the outbreak outside China and roll out more targeted measures to prevent the import and export of infection, the group said in a statement. It is important to further


By China Daily
March 13, 2020

Diplomacy

Back to work in Beijing, with tough measures in place

 Mandatory quarantine for those coming from overseas; some Wuhan businesses may reopen. As most of China attempts to return to normalcy after an extensive lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the capital Beijing has been carefully trying to strike a balance between having people restart work while also trying to keep out imported infections, and yesterday ordered a mandatory quarantine for all international arrivals. This comes as the Hubei government announced that some businesses in Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicentre, would gradually be allowed to reopen. On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, his first visit to the city since the outbreak, a sign that the crisis could finally be easing after the government’s toug


By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020

Diplomacy

Xi vows victory over coronavirus in Wuhan

President expresses condolences to families of people who died in epidemic. President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday that prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak remains the top priority and most important task, even amid the recent positive signs. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark during his inspection tour in the outbreak’s epicentre, Wuhan, capital of Hubei province. The spread of the novel coronavirus has been basically curbed in Hubei and Wuhan, Xi said, adding that initial success has been made in stabilising the situation and turning the tide in Hubei and Wuhan. Xi encouraged local residents and front-line worke


By China Daily
March 11, 2020

Diplomacy

China sets example in fighting virus

Epidemic reveals inadequacies in global governance; Beijing says it’s ready to help. China’s response to novel coronavirus pneumonia has set an example for the world in coping with the contagion and offered experience in advancing global public health governance, officials and experts said. The COVID-19 outbreak has also raised the alarm about global public health security and reminded countries that co-operation and co-ordination are needed to deal with challenges as infectious diseases can rapidly escalate into global emergencies, they said. There is a growing positive momentum in epidemic control nationwide thanks to the “comprehensive, thorough and rigorous” measures that China has taken to contain the virus, they said, noting that the daily


By China Daily
March 10, 2020

Diplomacy

More than 800,000 people return Beijing under quarantine

“There’s still a risk of an outbreak of the disease with people coming to Beijing from other cities and countries,” Zhang Tongjun, deputy head of a group for prevention and control work in the city’s residential communities, said during an afternoon conference. About 827,000 people who came back to Beijing from outside the city are still in a 14-day quarantine to see if they had been infected with the novel coronavirus, an official said on Friday. “There’s still a risk of an outbreak of the disease with people coming to Beijing from other cities and countries,” Zhang Tongjun, deputy head of a group for prevention and control work in the city’s residential communities, said during an afternoon conference. Z


By China Daily
March 9, 2020

Diplomacy

South Korea declares third city as special care zone as cases spike

President Moon receives letter of support from North Korean leader as infected cases cross 6,000. South Korea has declared a third city a “special care zone” to boost its capability to fight a spike in coronavirus infections, with cases nationwide soaring beyond 6,000. The death toll stands at 42, mostly the elderly with underlying health conditions, while 88 people have recovered, including 47 discharged yesterday. The care zone announcement came as the presidential Blue House revealed that South Korean President Moon Jae-in received a letter on Wednesday from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressing support and comfort to the people battling the coronavirus outbreak, adding that he is confident they will “prevail in this fight wit


By The Straits Times
March 6, 2020