North Korea tested ground combat weapon, says South Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observing the flight drill of the combat pilots of Unit 1017 of the Air and Anti-aircraft Force of the Korean People's Army at undisclosed place, on April 16, 2019.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observing the flight drill of the combat pilots of Unit 1017 of the Air and Anti-aircraft Force of the Korean People's Army at undisclosed place, on April 16, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL • A weapon tested by North Korea is thought to have been a guided weapon for ground combat and not a ballistic missile, South Korea's military said, indicating it was a conventional weapon and not one subject to international sanctions.

South Korea and the United States ran a joint assessment of the test, a South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman said yesterday without offering further details about the weapon.

The Pentagon said the test did not involve a ballistic missile and posed no threat to the US or its allies in the Pacific. "There was a test," Mr Patrick Shanahan, the Acting Defence Secretary, told reporters as he met his Albanian counterpart at the Pentagon. "There's no change to our posture or to our operations."

A US official familiar with the assessment told CNN that North Korea tested components for an anti-tank weapon, rather than a fully operational new weapon. The official added that data the US has been able to review indicated the components were inconsequential to any advanced North Korean military capability.

North Korean state media announced the test of what it called a "new-type tactical guided weapon" on Thursday, hours before a separate state media report in which a Foreign Ministry official demanded US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo be removed from direct nuclear negotiations for what the official called his "reckless remarks".

Mr Pompeo said yesterday that he is "still in charge of the team" negotiating with North Korea over its nuclear programme.

BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2019, with the headline 'North tested ground combat weapon, says S. Korea'. Print Edition | Subscribe