Saturday 25 May 2019

US plays down Kim's weapons tests after new show of strength

Overseer: Kim Jong-un supervised the missile tests himself. Photo: Getty Images
Overseer: Kim Jong-un supervised the missile tests himself. Photo: Getty Images

Nicola Smith Taiwan

Washington sought to defuse tension yesterday after North Korea said it had carried out tests of long-range multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons.

Donald Trump's administration downplayed the significance of the tests as it defended the US president's conciliatory approach.

The strike drill did not violate Kim's self-imposed nuclear and missile-testing moratorium, which applied only to intercontinental-range ballistic missiles capable of striking the US.

Mr Trump voiced his optimism that the nuclear talks would resume, writing on Twitter: "I believe that Kim Jong-un fully realises the great economic potential of North Korea, & will do nothing to interfere or end it. He also knows that I am with him & does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen!"

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said the drills posed no threat to the US, Japan or South Korea.

He added: "We still believe there is an opportunity for a negotiated outcome where we will get verifiable denuclearisation."

On Saturday, Pyongyang- fired tactical guided weapons into the East Sea in a military drill supervised by Mr Kim himself. He said the drills were to "increase the combat ability so as to defend the political sovereignty and economic self-­sustenance".

Photographs released by North Korea showed the tactical guided weapons fired could be short-range, ground-to-ground ballistic missiles, according to Kim Dong-yub, a military expert in Seoul.

While such a missile launch would be in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions, at least it would not involve long-range ballistic missiles that have been seen as a threat to the US.

Irish Independent

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