North Korea hints at readiness to continue developing new weapons

A photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on Aug 11, 2019, showing the test-fire of a new weapon at an undisclosed location.
A photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on Aug 11, 2019, showing the test-fire of a new weapon at an undisclosed location.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (KYODO, REUTERS) - North Korea on Wednesday (Aug 21) voiced eagerness through its state-run media to continue developing and testing new weapons while accusing the United States of seeking confrontation through joint military drills with the South.

"There can be no constructive dialogue while confrontation is fuelled," the Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, said.

"We have to develop, test and deploy powerful physical means essential for national defence."

The remarks by North Korea's most influential newspaper came a day after the US and South Korea ended their joint military exercise that started on Aug 5. Pyongyang has denounced such drills as a rehearsal for an invasion.

North Korea has repeatedly launched projectiles, including what appeared to be short-range ballistic missiles, off its east coast since July 25, in protest against the latest US-South Korea joint military exercise.

Meanwhile, the Yomiuri newspaper said in an unsourced report on Wednesday that Japan will upgrade its estimate of North Korea's nuclear weapons capability in an upcoming annual defence report, saying it seems Pyongyang has already achieved the miniaturisation of warheads.

That compares with the assessment in last year's report in which the government said it was possible North Korea had achieved miniaturisation, the Japanese daily said without citing sources.

The Japanese government is planning to approve the report at a Cabinet meeting in mid-September. The report will maintain the assessment that North Korea's military activities pose a"serious and imminent threat", the Yomiuri said.

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump said he received what he called a "beautiful" letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Mr Trump said Mr Kim expressed his desire in the letter to hold more summit talks following the end of the military drill.

 
 

North Korea is scheduled to convene the second session of its top legislative body this year on Aug 29. All eyes are on whether Mr Kim will make a speech at the legislature to announce his policy of how to proceed with denuclearisation negotiations with the US.

At their June 30 meeting at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom, Mr Trump and Mr Kim agreed that Washington and Pyongyang would resume stalled denuclearisation talks within weeks, but they have yet to take place.