Kim oversees test of 'strategic weapon' | Saturday Star

Danny Woods
November 19, 2018

SEOUL-Chinese leader Xi Jinping intends to visit North Korea next year after receiving an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, South Korea said on November 17, which would make Xi the first Chinese leader to do so since 2005.

Citizens of all countries, excluding the US and South Korea, are now permitted to study in North Korea.

Expectations are mounting over how China will use its clout to push North Korea back to dialogue with the US, after the leaders of China and South Korea agreed to cooperate to bring about a possible second US-North Korea summit.

Meanwhile, the official Korean Central News Agency said United States citizen Bruce Byron Lawrence would be deported from the country after having been detained on October 16 last.

"This is sort of like the North Korean version of military reform", said Choi Kang, vice president of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

North Korea's test of what it called a new "ultramodern tactical weapon" - the first public display of firepower in almost a year - was likely an effort by the communist state to increase its leverage amid an impasse in nuclear talks with the United States, experts said.

Also on Friday, KCNA reported that Kim had overseen the testing of a "newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon".

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Moon invited Xi to visit South Korea as part of the improving situation on the Korean Peninsula, and Xi replied that he is prepared to do so next near if circumstances allow. The name written in his passport was Lowrance Bruce Byron, said police officers at Gyeonggi Bukbu Provincial Police Agency.

According to a spokesman of the US State Department, "we remain confident that the promises made by President Trump and Chairman Kim will be fulfilled", yet the more North Korea advance their weaponry, the more competition persists between the two nations.

The good news is that President Trump can broker a way out of another crisis with North Korea.

"The defense industry should develop and manufacture powerful strategic weapons and military hardware of our style, ideal its Juche-oriented production structure and modernize its production lines on the basis of cutting-edge science and technology", he said in his 2018 New Year speech, referring to the long-held principle of self-reliance.

North Korea has denied torturing Warmbier and claims he contracted botulism in detention. Given the warm ties and progress, Seoul is best placed to mediate between the North and USA, but Beijing also has a role. Further, the IAEA says nuclear weapons are still being developed and recent satellite imagery shows at least one nuclear test site has been upgraded.

Pompeo had in October met again with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and said the meeting was "productive".

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence, attending a Southeast Asian summit in Singapore, cited the "great progress" made on North Korea since the tensions of 2017 but said more had to be done.

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