WASHINGTON – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised and guided a test firing of a “new-type tactical guided weapon,” state media reported, in a move probably intended as a provocation after nuclear talks with U.S. President Donald Trump stalled.
The Korean Central News Agency’s report didn’t refer to the weapon as a ballistic missile or nuclear, so the test may not scuttle prospects for continuing negotiations with the Trump administration. Trump has long defended his decision to hold two high-profile summits with Kim by citing the North Korean’s decision to halt nuclear and ballistic missile tests. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Kim’s move to undertake a new weapons test is likely to be interpreted as a bid for attention after the U.S. hardened its stance in negotiations with North Korea. Trump last week rejected a call for confidence-building joint economic projects between Seoul and Pyongyang, and his national security adviser said Wednesday that the U.S. would need to see more evidence that Kim was ready to give up nuclear weapons before scheduling a third summit.
“The president is fully prepared to have a third summit if he can get a real deal,” national security adviser John Bolton said in an interview Wednesday with Bloomberg News. The White House would need to see "a real indication from North Korea that they’ve made the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons.”
The White House’s more skeptical tone comes after Trump walked out of a Feb. 28 summit with Kim, saying the North Korean leader was seeking significant sanctions relief without indicating a willingness to fully dismantle his nuclear program. Kim has escalated his rhetoric since the summit, asking top ruling party members to deal a “severe blow to hostile foreign forces” earlier this month.
(Nick Wadhams contributed to this report.)
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