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DPRK says Kim supervised weapons tests

By PAN MENGQI | China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-12 09:09

DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un supervises the test firing of a new weapon. The photo was released by DPRK'S Korean Central News Agency on Sunday. [KCNA/REUTERS]

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea on Saturday extended a recent streak of protests at the ongoing US-ROK joint military exercises by firing two projectiles into the East Sea, the fifth such launch since July 25.

According to the Republic of Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, Saturday's projectiles were short-range ballistic missiles, which flew around 400 kilometers at a maximum altitude of 48 kilometers.

A Sunday report from DPRK's Korean Central News Agency, however, said the launch was a test of its "new weapon system", which its top leader Kim Jong-un supervised. It said he expressed "great satisfaction" over the launches.

KCNA did not give further details on what type of weapon was launched, only to state that the analysis of the test result "proved that the new weapon system's advantageous and powerful demand of the design was perfectly met".

Following the latest firings, US President Donald Trump tweeted that Kim told him in a new letter that he wants to resume the denuclearization talks once the joint exercise between the United States and the ROK is over, and that its short-range missiles "testing would stop when the exercises end".

The allies began their joint military drill last week, which Pyongyang has long condemned as a rehearsal for invasion.

Wang Junsheng, an associate researcher at the National Institute of International Strategy under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Pyongyang's successive tests of weapons are a clear protest against the drills and a display of its discontent with Seoul.

Kwon Jong-gun, DPRK's Foreign Ministry's director-general of the department of US affairs, said in a statement on Sunday that Pyongyang won't even have contact with Seoul, let alone hold a dialogue, unless Seoul gives a "plausible excuse" for its ongoing military exercise with the US, calling it an "aggressive war exercise against" the DPRK, Yonhap News Agency reported.

"Given that the military exercise clearly puts us as an enemy in its concept, they should think that an inter-Korean contact itself will be difficult unless they put an end to such a military exercise or before they make a plausible excuse or an explanation in a sincere manner for conducting the military exercise," Kwon said.

Wang, the Chinese researcher, said Seoul has been advocating itself as a coordinator between Pyongyang and Washington. However, Pyongyang does not believe Seoul has made any substantial contribution to improving the denuclearization talks, as it continues to conduct military exercises with the US.

"The settlement of the peninsula issues requires favorable external conditions. Not only the DPRK and the US need to hold more dialogues in good faith, but relevant countries should also create peaceful conditions and environment for progress," Wang added.

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