WASHINGTON — North Korea’s test of an unspecified high-tech weapon should not be interpreted as a sign that the regime is abandoning denuclearization talks with the United States, a senior South Korean official said Thursday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected the “successful” test of a “high-tech tactical weapon” at a national defense institute, state media reported early Friday (local time).
It marked the first such inspection by the leader following his viewing of an intercontinental ballistic missile launch in November 2017.
“It’s clearly something that we should watch carefully,” the senior government official who was visiting Washington told reporters on condition of anonymity. “But it’s still early to view this as a change of heart in terms of the North Koreans’ intention to have denuclearization talks or its intention to resolve the issue of regime security and improve ties with the US through talks.”
The test came as negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled.
North Korea has demanded sanctions relief in return for disarmament steps, while the US has refused to offer major concessions before the complete denuclearization of the regime.
Last week a planned New York meeting involving US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong-chol, was postponed at the last minute due to what the US called scheduling issues.
US President Donald Trump has said he still expects to have a second meeting with Kim early next year.
Their first summit in Singapore in June yielded a commitment by Kim to work toward “complete” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the US.
“Since Kim Jong-un took power, the North Koreans have been determined to develop their economy and raise their standing in the international community,” the official said. “So the correct view would be that the North Koreans still have the intention to hold denuclearization talks with the US, and although they should be watched closely, I don’t think that intention has changed.” (Yonhap)