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Tensions have been faltering between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un since they failed to reach an agreement on nuclear relations at the Hanoi Summit in February 2019. Mr Trump has previously declared North Korea’s short-range, land-based missile tests to not be a threat to the US, despite violating UN Security Council resolutions. But now it appears the North Korean leader wants to ensure the threat of the hermit state is still at the forefront of the next US President’s mind, regardless of whether it is Mr Trump or his democrat rival Joe Biden who wins the election.
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Edward Howell, Lecturer in Politics at the University of Oxford, specialising in the politics of the Korean Peninsula, claimed Kim wants to ensure North Korea’s nuclear ambitions “are considered”.
He told Express.co.uk: “Kim Jong-un made clear at the end of 2019 that North Korea would unveil a ‘new strategic weapon’: we are yet to see as to what such a weapon comprises, and the recent activity highlights how we should not rule out the possibility of a further missile launch.
“With the US presidential election approaching, time is running out for any US-DPRK dialogue, not least given how North Korea has highlighted its lack of interest in any engagement with the US, if Pyongyang’s own interests are not considered.
“Pyongyang has historically increased provocations during a US election year.”
Kim has previously used important occasions such as elections in the US, to carry out tests on new weapons.
Launching a new missile before the election may also be disastrous for Mr Trump’s chances of re-election, as it would show he failed to carry out his claims that he had made progress with North Korea.
Mr Howell added time is running out for the US and North Korea to carry on negotiations on their nuclear ambitions before November 3.
He said: “Through conducting a missile launch, North Korea wants to signal to the US that it has little desire to halt its nuclear ambitions, but it wishes to gain respect as a nuclear-armed state.
“Yet, it would not be in North Korea’s interests to engage in the same degree of high intensity bellicosity as witnessed in 2017, especially given what a new Biden administration’s policies on the DPRK may comprise.
“Might a last-minute US-North Korea negotiation be possible?
“Perhaps, but both sides have to show they are willing to accept the other’s position.”
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US weapons experts on the Beyond Parallel website posted new satellite images that show North Korea may be potentially preparing to launch a submarine.
The experts on the website say the pictures show a submersible test stand barge at the Sinpo South Shipyard.
An array of vessels can be within the boat basin in the images.
Two Romeo-class submarines are also anchored within the base, which the website says may be used for an SLBM test manoeuvre.
Dr Victor Cha, who leads the Centre for Strategic and International Studies “Beyond Parallel” website, told NBC: “This looks like they are certainly preparing to do an SLBM test for the first time.
“Kim Jong Un has been talking about unveiling a new strategic weapon and this may be it.
“There’s been a lot of activity around this one site where the test barge is located.”
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