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Kim:Great Satisfaction of NKorea Tests 08/17 09:01

   North Korea said Saturday that leader Kim Jong Un supervised another 
test-firing of an unspecified new weapon, seen as an attempt to pressure 
Washington and Seoul over slow nuclear negotiations and their joint military 
exercises.

   SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korea said Saturday that leader Kim Jong Un 
supervised another test-firing of an unspecified new weapon, seen as an attempt 
to pressure Washington and Seoul over slow nuclear negotiations and their joint 
military exercises.

   Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA, said that following 
Friday's launches, Kim expressed "great satisfaction" over his military's 
"mysterious and amazing success rates" in recent testing activity and vowed to 
build up "invincible military capabilities no one dare provoke." The report did 
not mention any specific comment about the United States or South Korea.

   The launches were North Korea's sixth round of tests since late July that 
revealed developments of a new rocket artillery system and two separate 
short-range mobile ballistic missile systems that experts say would expand its 
ability to strike targets throughout South Korea, including U.S. bases there.

   KCNA did not describe what Friday's weapons were or how they performed, but 
said that the tests were successful and strengthened the military's confidence 
in the reliability of the system.

   North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper published photos that showed 
what appeared to be a missile soaring from a launcher installed on a vehicle 
and striking what appeared to be a coastal target. Kim is seen jubilantly 
raising his fist while celebrating with military officials.

   "(Kim) said everyone should remember that it is the (ruling) party's core 
plan and unwavering determination to build a powerful force strong enough to 
discourage any forces from daring to provoke us and to leave any opponent 
defenseless against our Juche weapons of absolute power even in situations of 
physical clashes," KCNA said, referring to the North's national ideology of 
self-reliance.

   In a separate statement on Saturday, KCNA berated the ongoing U.S.-South 
Korea military drills as an invasion rehearsal that compels North Korea to 
constantly develop "powerful physical means and their deployment for an actual 
war."

   The United States has downsized its major military exercises with South 
Korea and halted dispatches of strategic assets such as long-range bombers and 
aircraft carriers to the region since the first summit between Kim and 
President Donald Trump last year. But North Korea says even the smaller drills 
violate agreements between the leaders.

   South Korea's military said earlier that two projectiles launched from the 
North's eastern coast flew about 230 kilometers (143 miles) before landing in 
waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The U.S. and South Korean 
militaries were analyzing the launches but didn't immediately say whether the 
weapons were ballistic missiles or rocket artillery.

   Experts say Trump's repeated downplaying of the North's recent launches 
allow the country more room to intensify its testing activity and advance its 
short-range weaponry while it seeks to build leverage ahead of nuclear 
negotiations with Washington, which could resume after the end of the military 
drills later this month.

   The U.S. envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, will visit Japan and South 
Korea early next week for talks on how to "further strengthen coordination on 
the final, fully verified denuclearization" of North Korea, the U.S. State 
Department said.

   North Korea has ignored South Korean calls for dialogue recently and is seen 
as trying to force Seoul to make stronger efforts to coax major concessions 
from Washington on its behalf.

   Hours before the latest launches, an unidentified North Korean government 
spokesperson used unusually blunt language to criticize South Korean President 
Moon Jae-in for continuing to hold military exercises with the U.S. and over 
his rosy comments on inter-Korean diplomacy, and said Pyongyang has no current 
plans to talk with Seoul.

   Moon said in a televised speech on Thursday that momentum for dialogue 
remains alive despite the series of "worrying actions taken by North Korea 
recently" and called for Pyongyang to choose "economic prosperity over its 
nuclear program."

   The spokesperson also criticized South Korea's recent acquisition of 
advanced U.S.-made fighter jets and said it would be "senseless" for Moon to 
believe that inter-Korean dialogue will automatically begin after the end of 
the U.S.-South Korean drills.

   The North had recently said it would talk only with Washington and not 
Seoul, and that inter-Korean dialogue won't resume unless the South offers a 
"plausible excuse" on why it keeps hosting military drills with the United 
States. Seoul's Unification Ministry, which deals with inter-Korean affairs, 
criticized the North Korean statement, saying it wouldn't help efforts to 
improve relations.


(KR)

 
 
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