SEOUL: North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has supervised the test-firing of a new tactical weapon with a “powerful warhead”, state media reported Thursday, in the first test of its kind since nuclear negotiations with Washington stalled.
The test marks a ratcheting up of tensions weeks after a summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump collapsed without agreement.
It also comes after satellite imagery suggested heightened activity at a nuclear test site.
Wednesday’s test was “conducted in various modes of firing at different targets” the Korean Central News Agency reported, adding that Kim “guided the test-fire”.
The report said Kim described its development as one “of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power of the People’s Army”.
The “advantages” of the weapon were “the peculiar mode of guiding flight and the load of a powerful warhead”, KCNA said.
Its report gave no details of the weapon.
South Korea had not detected anything on radar so it was unlikely to have been a missile, a military official said.
“When North Korea launches a missile, our radar catches it. But no missile was detected,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Seoul’ presidential office said it had no comment.
“The description makes whatever was tested sound like a missile, but that could be everything from a small anti-tank guided missile to a surface-to-air missile to a rocket artillery system,” said North Korea analyst Ankit Panda.
Earlier in the week, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a US monitor, said activity had been detected at Yongbyon, the North’s main nuclear testing facility.
The think tank said evidence suggested Pyongyang may be reprocessing radioactive material into bomb fuel.
Kim’s Hanoi summit with Trump, the second between the two men, ended abruptly, with North Korea later protesting that the US was being unreasonable in its demands.
Since then, North Korea has said it is mulling options for its diplomacy with the US, and Kim said last week he was open to talks with Trump only if Washington came with the “proper attitude”.
Fight vaccine hesitancy as ‘contagious disease’
GENEVA: Faced with a global resurgence of measles, health experts called today for countries to step up the fight against vaccine resistance, warning the movement was spreading like a contagious disease.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus joined experts and health ministers from a range of countries at an event on “promoting vaccine confidence”, amid rising concerns that resistance to immunization is allowing preventable diseases to flourish.
“No country can afford to be complacent about immunization,” Tedros told the meeting in Geneva, where the WHO is hosting its main annual gathering.
The WHO says cases of measles — a highly contagious viral infection that can prove fatal — surged 300 percent in 2018.
The resurgence of the once all-but-eradicated disease is linked to the growing anti-vaccine movement in richer nations, which has been identified as a major global health threat.
“It’s a contagious disease,” Seth Berkley, who heads the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, told AFP, warning that misinformation about vaccine safety “spreads at the speed of light.”
The anti-vax phenomenon has adherents across Western countries but especially in the US, where it has been fuelled by the spread on social media of medically baseless claims, debunked 20 years ago, that the jab could cause autism.
The United States, which sponsored Tuesday’s event with the EU and Brazil, lamented the “misinformation” causing vaccination rates in the country to decline.
“Vaccines are some of the most thoroughly tested medical products we have. Vaccines are safe, effective, and lifesaving,” US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told the meeting.
He slammed “social media conspiracy groups (that) confuse well-meaning parents so they hesitate to get the recommended vaccinations.”This misinformation has real impacts,” he said, pointing to the more than 700 measles cases in the US so far this year.
Azar dismissed questions about whether past statements by President Donald Trump in support of some anti-vaccination movement claims may bear some responsibility for the problem.
Pointing to recent comments by the president urging Americans to “get your kids vaccinated”, he stressed Trump was “extremely firm” in his support of vaccination.
EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukatis meanwhile suggested that vaccine skepticism was in part linked to the fact that vaccines have been so effective that most people have no concept of how devastating the diseases they prevent can be.
“We have become victims of our own success,” he said.
Among the measures being taken to inoculate populations against the spread of misinformation about vaccine safety was putting pressure on social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to remove or flag demonstrably false information.
“This is wrong information that is killing people,” Berkley said.
According to WHO, vaccines save some three million lives annually.
“Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines actually cause adults,” said Katherine O’Brien, who heads WHO’s immunization department.
Eiffel Tower climber ‘admitted to psychiatric unit’
PARIS: A man, believed to be Russian, who sparked a mass evacuation of the Eiffel Tower by scaling the iconic Paris landmark, has been admitted to a psychiatric unit, legal sources said today.
The man caused chaos Monday and the closure of the monument to tourists by spending six hours clinging to the outer metal framework of the Eiffel Tower. His identity has not been disclosed. He was questioned by police on Tuesday and had now been admitted to the psychiatric hospital of the police, legal sources told the Media. An investigation had been opened for unauthorized entry into a cultural monument, a judicial source said.
“It is a Russian man, who has suicidal tendencies,” said a source close to the case, asking not to be named. Firemen, who had rappelled down from the tower’s third-floor observation deck to near the black-clad climber, managed to persuade him to come down. Some 2,500 people, who had come to visit the Eiffel Tower, had to be evacuated Monday but it reopened as normal on Tuesday.
89 arrested in Sri Lanka over Easter bombings
COLOMBO: At least 89 suspects have been arrested over their alleged links to the Easter Sunday terror explosions which killed over 250 people and injured over 500 in Sri Lanka on April 21, the police said here Tuesday.
The suspects are currently under the custody of the Criminal Investigations Department and the Terrorism Investigations Department.
Police Spokesperson SP Ruwan Gunasekara said that search operations were ongoing across the country to hunt for more suspects who would be linked to the terror attacks but assured that most of those involved had now been arrested.
Hundreds of Sri Lankans on Tuesday visited the grave sites of the terror victims to pay tribute as the nation marked one month since the suicide attacks which targeted three luxury hotels and three churches.
Sri Lanka’s Army Commander Mahesh Senanayake, in a special statement has urged the people to return to normalcy and to send children back to school, assuring that all precautionary security measures had been put in place.
Senanayake said that search operations and investigations were ongoing and were “effectively advancing now with a marked progress as at now.”
Sri Lanka continues to be under a state of emergency following the April 21 explosions.