North Korea Tests Tactical Weapon, Calls for Pompeo to Be Dropped From Talks

April 18, 2019 Updated: April 18, 2019

North Korea said they wanted to drop U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from talks between the two countries and said he should be replaced by someone more mature.

The April 18 statement came hours after the country announced its first weapons test following a breakdown in talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump at their second summit in Vietnam. The countries failed to reach an agreement during the February talks, as both sides had differences over sanctions relief.

North Korea’s state news agency quoted senior foreign ministry official Kwon Jong Gun as warning that no one could predict the situation on the Korean peninsula if the United States did not abandon the “root cause” that compelled North Korea to develop nuclear weapons.

State-run media announced that the communist leader had overseen the testing of a new tactical guided weapon, which KCNA said has a “peculiar mode of guiding flight” and “a powerful warhead.”

A spokesperson for the State Department told The Epoch Times that the United States is still open to talks with North Korea.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (C) and U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun (R) stand with North Korean Vice-Chairman Kim Yong-chol prior to a meeting in Washington on Jan. 18, 2019. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

“We are aware of the report,” the spokesperson said via email on April 18. “The United States remains ready to engage North Korea in a constructive negotiation.”

KCNA gave no details on the weapon that was tested on April 17 but “tactical” implied a short-range weapon rather than the long-range ballistic missiles that have been seen as a threat to the United States.

Trump, meanwhile, has continued to stress his good relationship with Kim. Last week, Trump also suggested the possibility of a third summit taking place, though he did not mention a date.

“I agree with Kim Jong Un of North Korea that our personal relationship remains very good, perhaps the term excellent would be even more accurate, and that a third Summit would be good in that we fully understand where we each stand,” he wrote on Twitter on April 13.

“North Korea has tremendous potential for extraordinary growth, economic success and riches under the leadership of Chairman Kim. I look forward to the day, which could be soon, when Nuclear Weapons and Sanctions can be removed, and then watching North Korea become one of the most successful nations of the World!”

KCNA quoted Kwon, who is in charge of U.S. affairs, as saying the Vietnam summit, the second between the two leaders, showed that talks could go wrong “whenever Pompeo pokes his nose in.”

“I am afraid that, if Pompeo engages in the talks again, the table will be lousy once again and the talks will become entangled,” Kwon said.

“Therefore, even in the case of possible resumption of the dialogue with the United States, I wish our dialogue counterpart would be not Pompeo but other person who is more careful and mature in communicating with us.”

Kwon did not elaborate on the “root cause” of why North Korea were originally compelled to develop nuclear weapons. Kwon also said the two leaders were on good terms, even as he castigated Pompeo for “fabricated” stories as part of a “publicity stunt.” He did not elaborate.

North Korea has about 20 undeclared ballistic missile sites, according to a recent study by Beyond Parallel, a project sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

Reuters contributed to this report 

Follow Bowen on Twitter: @BowenXiao3
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