PYONGYANG, North Korea - In a move that has threatened the diplomatic progress it managed to achieve in June year - after several years of bitter relations with the U.S., its neighbor South Korea and other nations - North Korea on Thursday took a bold step.
North Korea's state media declared that the country's ruler, Kim Jong Un had personally observed the successful test of an unidentified weapon.
The test came more than ten months after North Korea officially stopped its provocative missile tests stoking tensions with the West and about four months after vowing to denuclearize.
The state media did not reveal many details, but said that Pyongyang had tested a "newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon."
It quoted Kim Jong Un as saying, This result today is a justification of the partys policy focused on defense science and technology, another display of our rapidly growing defense capabilities to the whole region, and a groundbreaking change in strengthening our militarys combat capabilities."
While experts noted that the test does not appear to be nuclear or a missile-related weapons test, it has managed to ramp up tensions with the West.
The South Korean Unification Ministry noted Kim Jong Un's inspection of the weapons test as the first publicly-known test by Pyongyang since the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile was tested in November last year.
Meanwhile, in response to the latest weapons test, the U.S. State Department issued a statement expressing its unfazed attitude towards the move.
The U.S. State Department noted in its statement, We remain confident that the promises made by President Trump and Chairman Kim will be fulfilled.
In June this year, at a summit in Singapore, Trump and with Kim Jong Un said that North Korea agreed to work towards denuclearization on the Korean peninsula.
However, following Friday's announcement by North Korea, Choi Kang, vice president of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul explained that the understated announcement made by Pyongyang was more likely aimed at reassuring the North Korean military rather than trying to torpedo diplomatic talks.
Kang reportedly said, North Korea is trying to show its soldiers that they are becoming high-tech and keeping a certain level of military capability, while trying to eliminate dissatisfaction and worries inside its military."