Thursday 13 December 2018
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North Korea says it has a new tactical weapon

North Korea s leader publicly inspected a new weapon for the first time in nearly a year, state media reported on Friday, while it also decided to release a U.S. prisoner, sending conflicting signals at a time of sensitive negotiations.Kim Jong Un s visit to the test site of a new tactical weapon threatened to sour the diplomatic atmosphere as negotiations between his country and the United States appear to have stalled. This result today is a justification of the party s policy focused on defence science and technology, another display of our rapidly growing defence capabilities to the whole region, and a groundbreaking change in strengthening our military s combat capabilities, Kim said.In Washington, in response to the North Korean announcement, a U.S. State Department spokesman said, We remain confident that the promises made by President Trump and Chairman Kim will be fulfilled. The official was referring to an unprecedented summit in June between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim in Singapore, where they agreed to work toward denuclearisation and peace on the Korean peninsula, and establish new relations.But the agreement was short on specifics, and negotiations have made little headway since.In a possibly conciliatory gesture, however, North Korea also announced on Friday it was releasing an American citizen detained since October after illegally entering North Korea from China.North Korea has often held previous American detainees for more extended periods. Steal wall The military test was successful and the weapon could protect North Korea like a steel wall , its KCNA news agency said, adding that Kim had observed the power of the tactical weapon .The only picture released by state media showed Kim standing on a beach surrounded by officials in military uniforms, but no weapons were visible.International weapons experts said the officials around Kim included a leader of the artillery corps of the Korean People s Army.South Korea s defence ministry said it did not have an immediate comment but was analysing the North Korean weapon test.Friday s understated announcement was more likely aimed at reassuring the North Korean military rather than trying to torpedo diplomatic talks, however, said Choi Kang, vice president of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

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