As talks between the United States and North Korea appear to be getting bogged down, North Korea upped the pressure with talk of a highly successful weapons test supervised in person by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The few details of the supposed weapon were shared by the Korean Central News Agency, which is run by the North Korean government.
It said Kim oversaw tests of a “newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon” without going into any detail over what the weapon could be, or where Kim went to supervise the test.
Kim expressed “great satisfaction” over the “state-of-the-art” weapon that “builds impregnable defenses of our country and strengthens the fighting power of our people’s army,” the North Korean news agency said.
The last time Kim personally oversaw a weapons test was November 2017, when he attended the launch of the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile.
Eugene Lee, a spokeswoman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry, said more information is needed to determine what was tested.
American officials did not detect any missile launch, according to ABC.
Other accounts suggested that by “tactical weapon” North Korea could mean a piece of artillery or a multiple rocket launcher.
Some commentators said the reported test is a negotiating tactic aimed at the United States.
“It’s North Korea-style coercive diplomacy. North Korea is saying ‘If you don’t listen to us, you will face political burdens,’” said analyst Shin Beomchul of Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies.
Others said the U.S. response to the move will be telling.
“He’s tiptoeing towards a more aggressive posture in negotiations with the US and he’s signaling that he’s not going to give way and can simply return to his old practices if (the U.S.) don’t change their approach,” said Josh Pollack, senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterrey, according to CNN.
The State Department downplayed the significance of the test.
“We remain confident that the promises made by President Trump and Chairman Kim will be fulfilled,” a State Department official told ABC.
Vice President Mike Pence, who was at a summit meeting in Singapore, said the difficulties of forging peace should not overshadow the progress made since President Donald Trump and Kim agreed to work together to reduce nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula.
A year and a half ago, “nuclear tests were taking place, missiles were flying over Japan and there were threats and propagations against our nation and nations in the region,” Pence said.
“Today, no more missiles are flying, no more nuclear tests, our hostages have come home, and North Korea has begun anew to return fallen American heroes from the Korean War to our soil. We made great progress but there’s more work to be done.”