The race is on to identify a mysterious weapon developed by North Korea after the country announced the successful test – its first in over a year – of a new “high-tech” weapon providing few additional details.
News of this “newly developed high-tech tactical” weapon was announced by Pyongyang’s KCNA news agency on Friday along with a picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un talking with officials on a beach test-site. However, the weapon in question cannot be seen and details about its capabilities remain shrouded in secrecy.
Overseeing the test, Kim expressed his “great satisfaction” with the weapon that “builds impregnable defenses of our country and strengthens the fighting power of our people’s army,” KCNA said.
Sparse additional information provided by KCNA said that the weapon had been commissioned “personally” by Kim’s late father and predecessor, Kim Jong-il.
South Korean authorities are working to identify and analyze the weapon in question. However, Seoul’s Ministry of Unification believes Kim supervised the test of a traditional weapon rather than a nuclear-capable one, citing that the term “strategic weapon” was not used by the KCNA in their report.
A “strategic weapon” describes ballistic and nuclear-armed missiles capable of attacking the heart of enemy territory far from the battlefield. “Tactical” weapons meanwhile are used within a much shorter range.
The ministry added that the inspection was the first known by Kim in a year after he oversaw the testing of a Hwasong-15 intercontinental missile in November 2017.
Despite the test, the US State Department said it remained “confident that the promises made by President Trump and Chairman Kim will be fulfilled,” referencing the unprecedented summit between both leaders in Singapore in June.
While both men had agreed to work toward denuclearization and peace on the Korean peninsula, heralding a new era of relations between Washington and Pyongyang, negotiations since have made little progress since then.
On Thursday, US Vice President Mike Pence said Trump planned to meet Kim for a second time in 2019, with the aim to further solidifying North Korean commitments to nuclear disarmament.