North Korea has test-fired a new tactical guided weapon – the first launch since a summit with the US ended without an agreement in Vietnam in February.
The secretive nation’s leader Kim Jong Un saw the event and hailed it as having “very weighty significance”.
But state media did not say whether it was a missile. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) claimed it had a “peculiar mode of guiding flight” and “a powerful warhead”.
However the word “tactical” implied a short-range weapon, and not the long-range ballistic missiles that have been seen as a threat to the US.
After a failed nuclear disarmament summit in Hanoi between Mr Kim and President Donald Trump earlier this year, the two sides have had little reported contact.
And the launch could be an attempt to show the North’s disapproval with how the talks are deadlocked without causing the negotiations to collapse.
Mr Kim was quoted as saying: “The development of the weapon system serves as an event of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power” of the North Korean army.
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It was the first known time that Mr Kim witnessed the testing of a newly-developed weapon system since last November, when reports said he observed the successful test of an unspecified “newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon”.
The latest announcement came after reports of new activity at a site where the North was believed to build long-range missiles.
Last April, Mr Kim said his country would not launch any more long-range intercontinental missiles and stop nuclear tests as Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities had been “verified”.
The latest launch comes after he visited the North Korean air force on Tuesday, inspecting a military drill and expressing “great satisfaction” at their combat readiness.
The White House said it was aware of the launch report and had no comment.