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North Korea Tests ‘Tactical Weapon’, Desires Removal of U.S. Secretary From Nuclear Talks

While it is not totally clear what weapon was tested, analysts say it is highly not likely that that it is a long-range missile, as that would spell an end to negotiations entirely.

North Korea's Scud-B missile
A mock North Korea's Scud-B missile, left, and South Korean missiles are displayed at Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, April 18, 2019. North Korea said Thursday that it had test-fired a new type of "tactical guided weapon," its first such test in nearly half a year, and a possible sign of its displeasure with deadlocked nuclear talks with the United States. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

North Korea said Thursday it test-fired a “tactical guided weapon,” while in a separate move, the reclusive state demanded the removal of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from negotiations over its nuclear program.

Experts believe both moves are a return to Pyongyang’s strategy of brinkmanship: extreme, yet calculated actions that show the country’s resentment with the stalled negotiations with Washington.

The weapons test on Wednesday, followed by the bold demand on Pompeo, simultaneously show outsiders that North Korea won’t back down, and to show strength domestically amid internal worries that diplomacy with the U.S. indicate the regime’s weakness, analysts said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong was present at the weapons test, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

“The development of the weapon system serves as an event of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power of the People’s Army,” he reportedly said.

During the South Korean Ministry of National Defense’s regular press briefing Thursday, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff did not give details of North Korea’s new tactical guided weapon.

The weapon, mentioned by North Korean media today is currently under review. It is not appropriate to give details of military information,” said Kim Jun-rak, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s public information office.

While Pompeo’s remarks suggested that a third U.S.-North Korea summit could happen soon, others in the administration were doubtful.
While Pompeo’s remarks suggested that a third U.S.-North Korea summit could happen soon, others in the administration were doubtful. VOA

In Washington, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon that North Korea conducted a test, but said it didn’t involve a ballistic weapon and didn’t trigger any change in U.S. military operations, the Associated Press reported.

While it is not totally clear what weapon was tested, analysts say it is highly not likely that that it is a long-range missile, as that would spell an end to negotiations entirely.

The BBC pointed out that testing a different kind of weapon allows Kim to say that he isn’t breaking any agreements not to test ICBMs, but still show North Korea has the capacity and will to develop new weapons. In essence it is a creative way to irritate North Korea’s detractors as if it tested the prohibited weapons without actually doing so.

According to one U.S. congressman it appears that Kim’s strategy is having the desired effect.

“Make no mistake about it: North Korea remains a clear and present danger to the safety and security of the American people,” said Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) in a statement Wednesday night.

“These alleged actions underscore that sanctions must remain in place and new sanctions must be levied until there is complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the North Korean regime,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington, said through his twitter account Thursday that the weapons test should not be taken as an indication of North Korea’s unwillingness to negotiate.

“Pundits and policy makers should refrain from automatically presuming this is an indicator of Pyongyang deliberately ratcheting up tensions or closing the door on negotiations,” said Klingner.

He said, however, that the regime was unhappy that negotiations were not proceeding smoothly in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s second summit with Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam in February.

The meeting ended in disagreement over competing U.S. demands for movement on denuclearization by Pyongyang and North Korean expectations for relief from punishing economic sanctions.

“That said, there are already plenty of negative signs that negotiations aren’t going well. Kim’s speech to the Supreme People’s Assembly is a clearer signal of North Korean intentions than yesterday’s military activity,” Klingner said.

Of the weapons test, Kim, Dong-yeop, a research professor at the Kyungnam University Institute for Far East Studies in South Korea posted on his social network site, “It seems like North Korea is strengthening selective conventional weapons and have intentions to hold conventional deterrence to protect the state.”

North Korea made the demand for Pompeo’s replacement following a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing in which he confirmed that in the past he has called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a “tyrant.”

Pompeo also said Monday during a speech that Kim made a promise to denuclearize during the first U.S.-North Korea summit last year in Singapore.

The president is fully prepared to have a third summit if he can get a real deal. VOA

“He said he wanted it done by the end of the year,” Pompeo said during the speech. “I’d love to see that done sooner.”

North Korea’s Director General of the American Affairs Department at the Foreign Ministry Kwon Jong Gun said in a statement that Pompeo misrepresented what Kim had said, that negotiations should be finalized by the year’s end.

Kwon said that Pompeo “spouted reckless remarks, hurting the dignity of our supreme leadership… to unveil his mean character”.

Also Read: More And More Women Join The Arakan Army’s Fight Against Myanmar’s Central Government

While Pompeo’s remarks suggested that a third U.S.-North Korea summit could happen soon, others in the administration were doubtful.

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg News that Washington needs more concrete indications that Kim is ready to give up his nuclear arsenal before a third summit could occur.

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

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Top 5 Tourist Places in South Korea’s Incheon

Here are the top five attractions in Incheon, South Korea

Incheon tourism
Consider sparing some time in Incheon when you visit South Korea and visit these tourist attractions. Pixabay

If you are headed to the Republic of Korea, commonly known as South Korea, chances are you will land in the Incheon International Airport, which is a short drive away from the mega city of Seoul. If you have some time to spare in Incheon, consider seeing these attractions.

Songdo Central Park

Songdo Central Park, a 1.8-kilometre seawater park is situated among the skyscrapers of Songdo. It has a walking path and a bicycle path, where visitors can take in the view of sunlight sparkling across the seawater as they enjoy a day out in the park. The view becomes even more mesmerizing after nightfall as the buildings light up around the park.

Visit the Deer farm here to see deer grazing on grass and Tribowl for a cultural space that offers various exhibitions, conferences and performances. Incheon has a river that crosses from east to west, where visitors can enjoy various water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, riding a family boat and more.

songdo Incheon
Songdo Central Park, a seawater park, is situated among the skyscrapers of Songdo. Pixabay

Moraenae Market

Located in the central area of Incheon in Guwol-dong, this traditional market was established in May 1982, when merchants started selling products on a sandy street using mere display stands. Moraenae Market first started as a wholesale market selling agricultural and fisheries products, then expanded to selling clothes, dishes, fisheries, and other diverse items. Due to the large traffic of customers compared to other traditional markets, Moraenae Market is known for keeping products up-to-date with fresh and trendy items.

National Institute of Biological Resources

The National Institute of Biological Resources is the largest collection preservation facility in Asia with approximately 6,000 species on display as of October 2019. Unlike some museums, all the specimens on display were collected from roadkills or those that faced natural deaths. Some of the species that can only be seen at this facility include Korean rose bitterling, Korean hare and white forsythia. Last fox specimen found in Korea can also be seen on display.

Incheon Grand Park

The Incheon Subway system makes it easier to travel around. Pixabay

A treasure in the middle of the city, Incheon Grand Park is an urban nature park that provides greenery and fresh air. As the only large-scale nature park in Incheon, the park holds an arboretum, children zoo, bicycle square, rose garden and more. Various animals and plants can be seen at the arboretum and the zoo, while those looking for peace and relaxation can walk around the Lake Garden listening to the calming sound of water flowing down the stair waterfall. The most popular course in the park, Forest of Healing, has a forest walking course that serves as the perfect activity for nature therapy. Due to the park’s large size, visitors are recommended to rent a bike to get see everything the park has to offer.

Gyeongin ARA Waterway

Gyeongin ARA Waterway connects Hangang River to the Yellow Sea with an observatory, artificial waterfall, Sculpture Park and other attractions along the way. It also has an 18.2-kilometre long bicycle path that follows the waterway where many visitors enjoy riding bicycles, while others are content by taking a relaxing stroll on the promenade.

Also Read- The Best Destinations for a Perfect Travel Experience

If you want to come to Incheon on a relaxed day, Seoul Metropolitan Subway lines not only cover Seoul but also other provinces including Gyeonggi-do, Incheon, Chungcheongnam-do and Gangwon-do.

Tip: It’s easy to tour around Incheon by the Incheon subway system. (IANS)