North Korea yesterday said that leader Kim Jong-un supervised test-firings of an unspecified new weapons system, which extended a streak of launches that are seen as an attempt to build leverage ahead of negotiations with the USA, while driving a wedge between the United States and South Korea. The US and South Korean militaries believe all of the projectiles have been short-range missiles.
In a statement issued by KCNA on Sunday, the North's foreign ministry said the South's refusal to cancel its joint drills with the United States had effectively scuppered any prospect of future talks with Seoul.
North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off its coast on friday.
Even after their abortive second summit in February - and as Pyongyang has continued to test short-range missiles - Trump has been reluctant to criticise the North Korean leader.
The KCNA said that Kim guided the test launch of "another new weapon system" which was developed to suit the country's terrain condition and has an "advantageous tactical character different from existing weapon systems. We should be reimbursed for it, and I've told that to South Korea".
North Korea s fifth round of weapons launches in less than three weeks was seen as a protest of the slow pace of nuclear negotiations and continuance of the U.S.
North Korea's head of state reportedly personally supervised the test from a launching site.
Trump has changed the debate by adding his own criticism of what he has called "war games" as part of his demands that South Korea pay more for maintaining some 28,500 USA troops on the peninsula.
"With regard to our test for developing conventional weapons, even the U.S. president made a remark which in effect recognizes the self-defense rights of a sovereign state, saying that it is a small missile test which a lot of countries do", Kwon said.
Trump has signaled that would be a red line, although USA -led United Nations Security Council sanctions resolutions ban the North from using any ballistic missile technology.
"Though we are to enter into a dialogue in future as the currents flow in favor of dialogue, (the South) had better keep in mind that this dialogue would be held strictly between the D.P.R.K and the USA, not between the North and the South", Kwon said, referring to North Korea by its formal name, the Democratic People s Republic of Korea.
"They should think that an inter-Korean contact itself will be hard to be made unless they put an end to such a military exercise or before they make a plausible excuse or an explanation in a honest manner".
Meanwhile, North Korea says it won't talk with South Korea unless Seoul pulls out of its joint exercise with the USA or provides a convincing reason.
Keen to tout his North Korea policy ahead of his 2020 re-election bid, Trump has played down the recent series of missile tests, saying they do not violate Kim's pledge to forego nuclear and long-range tests.
While past exercises involved extensive combat field training - with thousands of American troops coming in from several countries to take part - the current games are decidedly low-key, with the emphasis on computer-simulated scenarios.
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