Weapons test held as North contacts US-INSIDE

Weapons test held as North contacts US-INSIDE

Weapons test held as North contacts US-INSIDE

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a "new weapon" test, state media reported Sunday, the latest in a series of launches that US President Donald Trump has played down as Washington seeks to restart nuclear talks with Pyongyang.

News of this most recent round of missile testing came shortly after Trump told reporters he received a separate "really beautiful" and "very positive letter" from the North Korean despot.

Saturday's launch was the North's fifth test in two weeks as it protests the annual military drills under way between Seoul and Washington which always infuriates Pyongyang.

KCNA provided no technical specifications but said Sunday they were a "new weapon" developed to suit the country's "terrain condition".

The rockets, which South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said appeared to be short-range ballistic missiles, were fired at 5:34 a.m. and 5:50 a.m. from an area near Hamhung, South Hamgyong Province.

It also published photos showing a missile and Kim watching as a ball of fire rises in the sky.

They could essentially neutralize South Korea's "kill chain" pre-emptive strike system and Korean Air and Missile Defense systems.

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 USA had effectively scuppered any prospect of future talks with Seoul.

"They had better keep in mind that this dialogue would be held strictly between (North Korea) and the U.S., not between the North and the South", it said.

The United States has sharply scaled back the size and scope of the drills since Trump announced he was "stopping the war games" after his first summit with Kim past year. There have been no nuclear tests. "It was also a small apology for testing the short range missiles, and that this testing would stop when the exercises end".

Yet the speed and distance covered by the latest projectiles, experts say, make it likely they were short-range ballistic missiles, though perhaps not the same Russian-made Iskander variants from earlier tests.

In his brief tweets, Trump appeared to concur with the North Korean leader in calling the military drills "ridiculous and expensive" - words he also used to describe the exercises after his first summit with Kim in June a year ago when he shocked Seoul by saying he would suspend joint "war games" with South Korea.

Shin Beom-chul, an analyst at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul, said Trump's downplaying of the launches were equvalent to endorsing the missile tests.

In his tweets Saturday, Trump said North Korea's recent flurry of missile testing has been in response to U.S.

Trump said Saturday that Kim wrote in a "very handsome letter" that he wants "to meet and start negotiations as soon as" Seoul and Washington conclude the joint drill this month.

Washington and Seoul pledged in March to scale down their joint drills in an effort to foster denuclearisation efforts.

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.