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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.

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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.

Deal
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)

Next Story

Exhibition Marking 100 Years of First Display of Korean Anti-Colonial Resistance to Open in Delhi

Notably, the entire Korean Peninsula was under Japanese occupation for 35 years from 1910-1945 because the Korean War (1950-53) separated it into North and South

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Exhibition, South Korea, India
The exhibition "100th Anniversary of the March 1st Independence Movement: One Shiny Day", commemorating the spirit of the March 1st Movement - pioneering display of anti-colonial sentiment against its coloniser Japan - will open at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). Pixabay

As part of South Korea-India cultural exchange, an exhibition marking 100 years of the first display of Korean anti-colonial resistance will open in Delhi, and a show on Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March will travel to a South Korean museum next year.

The exhibition “100th Anniversary of the March 1st Independence Movement: One Shiny Day”, commemorating the spirit of the March 1st Movement – pioneering display of anti-colonial sentiment against its coloniser Japan – will open at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) on August 14 and will continue till September 29.

Notably, the entire Korean Peninsula was under Japanese occupation for 35 years from 1910-1945 because the Korean War (1950-53) separated it into North and South.

On March 1, 1919, the movement was joined by people from different walks of life regardless of their region, status and wealth, hinting at the people’s will for independence at home and abroad.

Exhibition, South Korea, India
As part of South Korea-India cultural exchange, an exhibition marking 100 years of the first display of Korean anti-colonial resistance will open in Delhi, and a show on Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March will travel to a South Korean museum next year. Pixabay

The upcoming show will display art inspired by the North-South divide, the Korean War refugees, downfall of Korean imperialists, and the first freedom struggle and people’s solidarity.

“The exhibition will display the artworks of 12 artists teams: KWON Hayoun, KIM BoMin, KIM Woojo, BAE Sungmi, SHON Sunghyun, AHN Eun-me, AHN Changhong, LEE Sanghyun, LEE Woosung, JEONG Jae-wan and JO Dongwhan + JO Haejun,” the Korean Cultural Centre India said in a statement to IANS.

The exhibition will also celebrate 15th August, which is the Independence Day of both India and Korea – North and South.

“The exhibition presents the underlying theme of the sorrow and restoration of South Korea that has similar modern history to India. I hope the artworks promote mutual understanding and shared values of both people of India and Korea,” Shin Bong-kil, South Korea’s Ambassador to India, said.

Also Read- Integration of Jammu & Kashmir to Indian Mainland Brings Uniformity to Economic Policies of Both Regions

To deepen the Korea-India friendship through shared culture, NGMA’s in-house curated exhibition on Gandhi’s ‘Salt March’ in Dandi, will open next year at Daegu Art Museum in Daegu, South Korea.

The show of sculptures, paintings, sketches and art installations, will signify the non-violent independence movements of both Indian and Korean people.

The multimedia exhibition “Dandi Yatraa” is part of the year-long celebrations of the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi and can be currently viewed at NGMA here. (IANS)