North Korea's Kim to meet Putin as tensions rise with US

Ms Kim is close to her brother and often seen at his side during key events

Ms Kim is close to her brother and often seen at his side during key events Credit Reuters

Ri was not reported to have accompanied the leader at yesterday's test, however, with state media saying he was joined by party officials Kim Phyong Hae, O Su Yong, Jo Yong Won, Ri Pyong Chol, and Kim Jong Sik.

While Kwon did not elaborate on why North Korea felt compelled to develop nuclear weapons, it has long spoken of the need to defend itself from what it sees as USA aggression.

"This does serve as a useful reminder of one critical fact: Chairman Kim Jong Un never promised to stop testing all weapons in his military arsenal, just nuclear weapons and ICBMs that have the potential to hit the United States homeland", said Harry Kazianis of the Washington-based Center for the National Interest.

The test does not seem to signal the country's return to testing missiles, and officials at the U.S. Department of Defense told CNN that no missile launch was detected by the U.S. Northern Command and Strategic Command. The U.S. and its allies have balked at allowing projects now blocked by sanctions and long sought by North Korea - such as an energy pipeline from Russian Federation and regular train service across their shared border - until Pyongyang agrees to reduce its security threat.

Instead, the North has carried out smaller provocations.

The KCNA also quoted Kim as saying that "active progress in our own weapons systems is a very good development", and claimed Wednesday's test proved the new system is fully functional.

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North Korean media introduced the tests as tactical guided weapons, implying that the weapons may be for battlefield purposes, not posing actual threats on the USA mainland. Some observers have been expecting North Korea to orchestrate "low-level provocations", like artillery or short-range missile tests, to register its anger over the way nuclear negotiations were going.

Just weeks after talks with Donald Trump stalled, North Korea leader Kim Jong Un has set up a meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin.

North Korea has been pushing for more sanctions relief in exchange for denuclearization, while the USA has demanded greater evidence that the country is prepared to reduce its nuclear arsenal. Kim has only offered limited steps toward denuclearization.

Putin is to visit China later this month, and some media speculated that he could meet with Kim in Vladivostok, the far eastern port city near the border with North Korea.

The move is the first of its kind since last November, when Kim Jong Un was reported to have inspected the testing of a similarly-ambiguous new "ultramodern tactical weapon".

What did North Korea test?

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Kwon complained that Pompeo had characterized Kim's speech as being about finishing "working level negotiation between (North Korea) and the United States by the end of the year", an interpretation he said was "talking nonsense". The dispatch announcing the test was brief, noting the missile has a "peculiar mode of guiding flight" and "a powerful warhead", according to the KCNA.

USA special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun was also in Moscow, the State Department said.

"This looks like a new form of cruise missile", he said.

It was not clear how Kim might travel to Russian Federation, which shares a border with North Korea. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said it is analyzing the test but did not specifically say what the weapon appeared to be.

Russian Federation is interested in gaining broader access to North Korea's mineral resources, including rare metals.

"Hanoi summit gives us a lesson that whenever Pompeo pokes his nose in, the talks go wrong without any results even from the point close to success", Kwon said.

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The Center for Strategic and International Studies noted the presence of five specialized railcars at the Yongbyon nuclear complex.

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