NKorea says it tested new weapon, wants US’s Pompeo out of talks

FILE - In this April 10, 2019, file photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends the 4th Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang. North Korea has test-fired a "new-type tactical guided weapon," its state media announced Thursday, April 18, 2019, a move that could be an attempt to register the country's displeasure with currently deadlocked nuclear talks with the United States without causing those coveted negotiations to collapse. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said today that it had test-fired a new type of “tactical guided weapon,” its first such test in nearly half a year, and demanded that Washington remove Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from nuclear negotiations.

The test, which didn’t appear to be of a banned mid- or long-range ballistic missile that could scuttle negotiations, allows Pyongyang to show its people it is pushing ahead with weapons development while also reassuring domestic military officials worried that diplomacy with Washington signals weakness.

Separately, Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry accused Pompeo of playing down the significance of comments by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who said last week that Washington has until the end of the year to offer mutually acceptable terms for an agreement to salvage the high-stakes nuclear diplomacy. Both the demand for Pompeo’s removal from the talks and the weapon test point to Pyongyang’s displeasure with the deadlocked negotiations.

In a statement issued under the name of Kwon Jong Gun, director general of the American Affairs Department at Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry, North Korea accused Pompeo of “talking nonsense” and misrepresenting Kim’s comments.

During a speech at Texas A&M on Monday, Pompeo said Kim promised to denuclearize during his first summit with President Donald Trump and that U.S. officials were working with the North Koreans to “chart a path forward so we can get there.”

“He (Kim) said he wanted it done by the end of the year,” Pompeo said. “I’d love to see that done sooner.”

The North Korean statement said Pompeo was “misrepresenting the meaning of our requirement” for the negotiations to be finalized by the year’s end, and referred to his “talented skill of fabricating stories.”

It said Pompeo’s continued participation in the negotiations would ensure that the talks become “entangled” and called for a different counterpart who is “more careful and mature in communicating with us.”