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Westlake Legal Group > Missiles and Missile Defense Systems

In a Tweet Taunting Iran, Trump Releases an Image Thought to Be Classified

A mysterious explosion on Thursday at an Iranian space center prompted speculation that it was American sabotage, rather than an accident, that was responsible for the third successive failure of Tehran’s efforts to show it could loft satellites into orbit.

As pictures from commercial satellites of a rocket’s smoking remains began to circulate, President Trump denied Friday on Twitter that the United States was involved. It was an unusual message because the Iranian government had neither acknowledged the accident nor blamed the United States. His tweet ended with an apparent taunt: “I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened” in the fiery accident.

But Mr. Trump also included in his tweet a high-resolution image of the disaster, immediately raising questions about whether he had plucked a classified image from his morning intelligence briefing to troll the Iranians. The president seemed to resolve the question on Friday night on his way to Camp David when he told reporters, “We had a photo and I released it, which I have the absolute right to do.”

There is no denying that, even if it runs the risk of alerting adversaries to American abilities to spy from high over foreign territory. And there is precedent for doing so in more calculated scenarios: President John F. Kennedy declassified photographs of Soviet missile sites during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and President George W. Bush declassified pictures of Iraq in 2003 to support the faulty case that Saddam Hussein was producing nuclear and chemical weapons.

It was unclear if Mr. Trump was using the explosion and the lurking suspicions among Iranians that the United States was again deep inside their nuclear and missile programs to force a negotiation or to undermine one.

Mr. Trump’s comments came days after a Group of 7 summit at which France tried to organize talks between Mr. Trump and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran. Both Washington and Tehran seem to be maneuvering to restart some kind of contact, and perhaps reopen negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. At the same time, the United States is ratcheting up sanctions and Iran is resuming nuclear activities it had suspended under a 2015 agreement with the Obama administration.

Commercial satellite photographs and the far more detailed image that Mr. Trump released showed devastating damage at the Imam Khomeini Space Center. The rocket itself appeared to have disintegrated. White House and intelligence officials declined to say whether the image Mr. Trump tweeted came from his morning intelligence briefing, but other officials conceded it bore all of the markings of a spy-satellite image.

American officials have often accused Iran of conducting the launches, under the guise of its space program, to simulate the technology involved in deploying a conventional or nuclear warhead — an effort American officials have vowed to stop. In February, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration had accelerated a secret American program to sabotage both Iran’s missiles and its rockets.

Two previous attempts at launching satellites — on Jan. 15 and on Feb. 5 — failed. More than two-thirds of Iran’s satellite launches have failed over the past 11 years, a remarkably high number compared with the 5 percent failure rate worldwide.

Mr. Trump’s denial and the satellite image he released seemed meant to maximize Iran’s embarrassment over the episode.

“The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir SLV Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran,” he tweeted. “I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One.”

If the accident was linked to a covert action by the United States — one that Mr. Trump would have been required to authorize in a presidential “finding” — he and other American officials would be required by law to deny involvement.

The laws governing covert actions, which stretch back to the Truman administration, focus on obscuring who was responsible for the act, not covering up the action itself. Most American presidents have fulfilled that requirement by staying silent about such episodes, but Mr. Trump does not operate by ordinary rules — and may have decided that an outright denial was his best course.

Alternatively, the president may have been trying signal to the Iranians that the United States was not involved in order to keep the episode from derailing the odd dance underway between Tehran and Washington more than a year after Mr. Trump abandoned the nuclear deal. While in public, Iranian officials insist they would negotiate only if the United States re-enters the Obama-era agreement and lifts sanctions. In private, many Iranian elites now appear to be coalescing around a strategy of continued provocations, but also an openness to talks with Mr. Trump.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159960075_d3e4bb90-9f9e-4003-ab1a-224d444fef6e-articleLarge In a Tweet Taunting Iran, Trump Releases an Image Thought to Be Classified Trump, Donald J Satellites Rouhani, Hassan Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Iran Group of Seven Espionage and Intelligence Services Classified Information and State Secrets

President Trump appears to have taken the highly unusual step of releasing an official and relatively high resolution annotated U.S. intelligence image.CreditPresident Trump, via Twitter

Many in Iran will suspect American involvement in the string of unexplained disasters striking the country’s space program. A decade ago, the United States and Israel were the prime players in a covert action, code-named “Olympic Games,” to sabotage Iran’s nuclear centrifuges using a hard-to-detect cyberattack at the Natanz nuclear enrichment plant. Changes in computer code being fed to the centrifuges caused them to speed up or slow down, and to spin out of control.

In 2011, a huge explosion destroyed a major missile-testing site near Tehran, killing the military officer who oversaw the Iranian program. Initially, the Iranians described that as an accident, but they later linked it to an Israeli program to assassinate nuclear scientists. Israeli officials have since hinted they were involved.

That explosion destroyed buildings at a vast development site; the explosion on Thursday appeared more isolated, limited to the launchpad, which was shown smoldering in satellite photographs released by Planet Labs.

But it was Mr. Trump’s release of a satellite photograph that attracted the most discussion among intelligence officials. Several former officials noted that the upper left-hand corner, where the level of classification of the photograph would normally be denoted, was blacked out before Mr. Trump tweeted the image. That suggested a rushed effort by the United States to declassify it, presumably at Mr. Trump’s command. A glare on the photograph suggested someone may have used a cellphone to take a picture of the image as it was displayed on a tablet computer, which is how classified images are often shown to the president during security briefings.

“You can bet every adversary is going to school on what’s been exposed,” James R. Clapper Jr., a former director of national intelligence, said in an email. “I can’t see what the point was, other than to make fun of the Iranians.”

Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, said the image posted by Mr. Trump looked “far better than any commercial imagery” that has been released about the launch. Revealing the abilities of American satellite surveillance, he argued, does not advance American interests.

“This tweet is an excellent example of Trump’s aimless, impulsive thinking about many national security issues,” Mr. Kimball said. “Why tweet that the United States was not involved when it may have been? Why, apparently sarcastically, wish them good luck in finding the cause for the accident?”

Commercial satellite images by Planet Labs and Maxar Technologies showed a thick plume of black smoke rising from the launching pad on Thursday, as well as what appeared to be the burned remains of the launching tower.

It was the third disaster to befall a rocket launching attempt this year at the Iranian space center, a desert complex east of Tehran named for the nation’s first supreme leader. The site specializes in rocket launchings meant to put satellites into orbit.

Tehran announced its January rocket failure but said nothing about the one in February that was picked up by American intelligence officials. It has also said nothing officially about Thursday’s blast. Like many closed societies, Iran tends to hide its failures and exaggerate its successes.

While Tehran says the launchings are for peaceful purposes, American officials say the advancement of orbital rocketry can aid the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles — the kind that might one day threaten the United States with nuclear strikes.

David Schmerler, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, who closely examined the satellite imagery of Thursday’s blast, said there was no way to know if it was accidental or intentional.

“Something went wrong and it ignited the fuel,” he said. “It could be sabotage or an accident. There’s no way to tell.”

Mr. Schmerler added that the first images on Thursday seemed to imply the launching pad had suffered a catastrophic explosion associated with a failed launching. But later imagery and analysis, he said, suggested the billowing smoke and debris were the result of a fueling accident.

In an interview, Mr. Schmerler said the image in Mr. Trump’s tweet revealed many details that reinforced the idea of a fueling or final-preparations disaster. For instance, Mr. Schmerler said, the launching tower was clearly still in the middle of the launching pad rather than having been pulled back — the standard Iranian practice.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Denies U.S. Responsibility in Iranian Missile Base Explosion

Westlake Legal Group 30dc-missile-facebookJumbo Trump Denies U.S. Responsibility in Iranian Missile Base Explosion Trump, Donald J Satellites Rouhani, Hassan Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Iran Group of Seven Espionage and Intelligence Services Classified Information and State Secrets

A mysterious explosion on Thursday at an Iranian space center prompted speculation that it was American sabotage, rather than an accident, that was responsible for the third successive failure of Tehran’s efforts to show it could loft satellites into orbit.

As pictures from commercial satellites of a rocket’s smoking remains began to circulate, President Trump denied Friday on Twitter that the United States was involved. It was an unusual message because the Iranian government had neither acknowledged the accident nor blamed the United States. His tweet ended with an apparent taunt: “I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened” in the fiery accident.

But Mr. Trump also included in his tweet a high-resolution image of the disaster, immediately raising questions about whether he had plucked a classified image from his morning intelligence briefing to troll the Iranians. The president seemed to resolve the question on Friday night on his way to Camp David when he told reporters, “We had a photo and I released it, which I have the absolute right to do.”

There is no denying that, even if it runs the risk of alerting adversaries to American abilities to spy from high over foreign territory. And there is precedent for doing so in more calculated scenarios: President John F. Kennedy declassified photographs of Soviet missile sites during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and President George W. Bush declassified pictures of Iraq in 2003 to support the faulty case that Saddam Hussein was producing nuclear and chemical weapons.

It was unclear if Mr. Trump was using the explosion and the lurking suspicions among Iranians that the United States was again deep inside their nuclear and missile programs to force a negotiation or to undermine one.

Mr. Trump’s comments came days after a Group of 7 summit at which France tried to organize talks between Mr. Trump and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran. Both Washington and Tehran seem to be maneuvering to restart some kind of contact, and perhaps reopen negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. At the same time, the United States is ratcheting up sanctions and Iran is resuming nuclear activities it had suspended under a 2015 agreement with the Obama administration.

Commercial satellite photographs and the far more detailed image that Mr. Trump released showed devastating damage at the Imam Khomeini Space Center. The rocket itself appeared to have disintegrated. White House and intelligence officials declined to say whether the image Mr. Trump tweeted came from his morning intelligence briefing, but other officials conceded it bore all of the markings of a spy-satellite image.

American officials have often accused Iran of conducting the launches, under the guise of its space program, to simulate the technology involved in deploying a conventional or nuclear warhead — an effort American officials have vowed to stop. In February, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration had accelerated a secret American program to sabotage both Iran’s missiles and its rockets.

Two previous attempts at launching satellites — on Jan. 15 and on Feb. 5 — failed. More than two-thirds of Iran’s satellite launches have failed over the past 11 years, a remarkably high number compared with the 5 percent failure rate worldwide.

Mr. Trump’s denial and the satellite image he released seemed meant to maximize Iran’s embarrassment over the episode.

“The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir SLV Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran,” he tweeted. “I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One.”

If the accident was linked to a covert action by the United States — one that Mr. Trump would have been required to authorize in a presidential “finding” — he and other American officials would be required by law to deny involvement.

The laws governing covert actions, which stretch back to the Truman administration, focus on obscuring who was responsible for the act, not covering up the action itself. Most American presidents have fulfilled that requirement by staying silent about such episodes, but Mr. Trump does not operate by ordinary rules — and may have decided that an outright denial was his best course.

Alternatively, the president may have been trying signal to the Iranians that the United States was not involved in order to keep the episode from derailing the odd dance underway between Tehran and Washington more than a year after Mr. Trump abandoned the nuclear deal. While in public, Iranian officials insist they would negotiate only if the United States re-enters the Obama-era agreement and lifts sanctions. In private, many Iranian elites now appear to be coalescing around a strategy of continued provocations, but also an openness to talks with Mr. Trump.

Many in Iran will suspect American involvement in the string of unexplained disasters striking the country’s space program. A decade ago, the United States and Israel were the prime players in a covert action, code-named “Olympic Games,” to sabotage Iran’s nuclear centrifuges using a hard-to-detect cyberattack at the Natanz nuclear enrichment plant. Changes in computer code being fed to the centrifuges caused them to speed up or slow down, and to spin out of control.

In 2011, a huge explosion destroyed a major missile-testing site near Tehran, killing the military officer who oversaw the Iranian program. Initially, the Iranians described that as an accident, but they later linked it to an Israeli program to assassinate nuclear scientists. Israeli officials have since hinted they were involved.

That explosion destroyed buildings at a vast development site; the explosion on Thursday appeared more isolated, limited to the launchpad, which was shown smoldering in satellite photographs released by Planet Labs.

But it was Mr. Trump’s release of a satellite photograph that attracted the most discussion among intelligence officials. Several former officials noted that the upper right-hand corner, where the level of classification of the photograph would normally be denoted, was blacked out before Mr. Trump tweeted the image. That suggested a rushed effort by the United States to declassify it, presumably at Mr. Trump’s command. A glare on the photograph suggested someone may have used a cellphone to take a picture of the image as it was displayed on a tablet computer, which is how classified images are often shown to the president during security briefings.

Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, said the image posted by Mr. Trump looked “far better than any commercial imagery” that has been released about the launch. Revealing the abilities of American satellite surveillance, he argued, does not advance American interests.

“This tweet is an excellent example of Trump’s aimless, impulsive thinking about many national security issues,” Mr. Kimball said. “Why tweet that the United States was not involved when it may have been? Why, apparently sarcastically, wish them good luck in finding the cause for the accident?”

Commercial satellite images by Planet Labs and Maxar Technologies showed a thick plume of black smoke rising from the launching pad on Thursday, as well as what appeared to be the burned remains of the launching tower.

It was the third disaster to befall a rocket launching attempt this year at the Iranian space center, a desert complex east of Tehran named for the nation’s first supreme leader. The site specializes in rocket launchings meant put satellites into orbit.

Tehran announced its January rocket failure but said nothing the one in February that was picked up by American intelligence officials. It has also said nothing officially about Thursday’s blast. Like many closed societies, Iran tends to hide its failures and exaggerate its successes.

While Tehran says the launchings are for peaceful purposes, American officials say the advancement of orbital rocketry can aid the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles — the kind that might one day threaten the United States with nuclear strikes.

David Schmerler, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, who closely examined the satellite imagery of Thursday’s blast, said there was no way to know if it was accidental or intentional.

“Something went wrong and it ignited the fuel,” he said. “It could be sabotage or an accident. There’s no way to tell.”

Mr. Schmerler added that the first images on Thursday seemed to imply the launching pad had suffered a catastrophic explosion associated with a failed launching. But later imagery and analysis, he said, suggested the billowing smoke and debris were the result of a fueling accident.

In an interview, Mr. Schmerler said the image in Mr. Trump’s tweet revealed many details that reinforced the idea of a fueling or final-preparations disaster. For instance, Mr. Schmerler said, the launching tower was clearly still in the middle of the launching pad rather than having been pulled back — the standard Iranian practice.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

NATO Considers Missile Defense Upgrade, Risking Further Tensions With Russia

BRUSSELS — NATO military officials are exploring whether to upgrade their defenses to make them capable of shooting down newly deployed Russian intermediate-range nuclear missiles after a landmark arms treaty dissolves next month, according to three European officials.

Any change to the stated mission of NATO’s current missile defense system — aimed at threats from outside the region, like Iran — would probably divide the alliance’s member countries and enrage Russia, which has long said it views NATO’s missile defense site in Romania and one under construction in Poland as a threat to its nuclear arsenal and a source of instability in Europe.

“It would be a point of no return with the Russians,” said Jim Townsend, a former Pentagon official and expert on the alliance. “It would be a real escalation.”

The United States announced in February its intention to withdraw from the 31-year-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in 1987 in the waning years of the Cold War, citing Moscow’s years of violations, a step the NATO alliance supported.

The treaty, which prohibits missiles with a range of 310 to 3,420 miles from Europe, will be terminated on Aug. 2 unless Moscow and Washington come to agreement to revive it in the next few weeks.

NATO ambassadors will make one last attempt to push Russia to withdraw its new cruise missiles and revive the treaty on Friday in Brussels.

Discussions about new missile defense measures are at their earliest stages, officials cautioned. NATO’s chief spokeswoman, Oana Lungescu, denied that any studies of the feasibility of upgrading the ballistic missile defenses were underway. She said the alliance had repeatedly made clear that the existing ballistic missile defense system “is neither designed nor directed against Russia.”

But the alliance is considering new air and missile defenses, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced last week without revealing details. And given the rising threat of the Russian cruise missiles, NATO members are expected to order the alliance to study defense options, either after the October defense ministers’ meeting or the December leaders’ summit, a senior alliance official said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157431471_e2f75b17-e6b1-46f5-8e59-e1012d158b25-articleLarge NATO Considers Missile Defense Upgrade, Risking Further Tensions With Russia United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Treaties Russia Nuclear Weapons North Atlantic Treaty Organization Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Europe Eastern Europe Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

The NATO Aegis defense system in Romania in 2016. The systems there and in Poland are currently incapable of firing the interceptor used to strike intermediate-range missiles.CreditKay Nietfeld/Picture-Alliance, via Associated Press

Such an order would require all 29 allies to agree to it. But some officials think that if the treaty ends, the allies will at least be willing to examine the options. The senior official said that if the allies ultimately could not agree on shifting the mission of the ballistic missile defense sites, they may be open to a compromise that would introduce new systems to defend against Russian cruise missiles.

The push for improved defenses is fueled by Russia’s fielding of a new class of missiles as well as the expected demise of the treaty — a casualty of deteriorating relations between Russia and the United States. Eastern European countries, particularly Poland and the Baltic states, believe they are under growing threat of nuclear bullying by Moscow and have been eager to see the alliance develop new defenses.

Based on intelligence from multiple allied agencies, NATO countries have forged a consensus that the new Russian nuclear-capable cruise missiles pose a threat. The missiles, some American and European analysts fear, could give Moscow significant leverage, using the threat of attack to force other countries to de-escalate or give in to Russian demands during a crisis.

The relationship between Russia and the West has spiraled downward since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Russia’s destabilization of Ukraine forced the alliance to reinforce its eastern flank with new troop deployments and military exercises. Moscow responded with its own military upgrades, ultimately including the deployment of a new class of ground-based cruise missiles that the West said violated the I.N.F. treaty. Russia’s election interference, its intervention in Syria and the attempted poisoning of a former Russian intelligence officer in Britain further heightened tensions.

Any move by NATO to redirect its missile defenses or expand its system with new capabilities could be a tipping point. Russians have never believed the alliance’s denials that its interceptor system would not eventually be used to shoot down Russian missiles. The system has remained a persistent irritant for Moscow, which questioned why the alliance still needed it after Iran agreed in 2015 to pause its nuclear enrichment program and threatened to direct missiles at the alliance interceptor sites.

Officials at Russia’s NATO embassy did not return requests for comment.

Last week, allied defense ministers approved an examination of potential responses to the Russian deployment of so-called SSC-8 cruise missiles, the weapon NATO accuses Moscow of deploying in violation of the treaty, according to three NATO officials. They include expanding existing deterrence exercises and publicizing the alliance’s nuclear exercises, which are highly secretive. Drawing more attention to the allied nuclear exercises and arsenal would help deter Moscow’s use of its own weapons, some officials think.

NATO will probably need to examine more broadly what defenses it needs against the cruise missiles. Such work, if approved this year, would include exploring whether it can upgrade its Aegis Ashore radar and interceptor sites in Romania and Poland and looking at new radar or air defense capabilities against the cruise missiles.

Upgrading existing ballistic missile defense capabilities, including its two Aegis Ashore sites, would be complex. The NATO Aegis systems in Romania and Poland are incapable of firing the interceptor used to strike intermediate-range missiles. And given their close positions to Russia, the systems have significantly less time to detect, lock onto and attempt to intercept the missiles.

The United States Missile Defense Agency has examined how existing Aegis Ashore missile defense systems could be upgrade with new radar, software and interceptors to allow them to strike intermediate ballistic missiles and potentially cruise missiles, according to current and former officials briefed on the discussions.

Newer technologies like high-velocity projectiles and directed-energy lasers are likely to provide a far better defense long term, experts said. Ballistic missile defenses intercept missiles high in the atmosphere, while cruise missiles fly relatively low to the ground.

Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, has said the alliance is considering new air and missile defenses.CreditVirginia Mayo/Associated Press

Fielding new systems to defend against a cruise missile threat, rather than upgrading the existing ballistic missile defense, may also prove more politically palatable. “If NATO is to update its systems, it may undermine its yearslong claim that the launchers were never meant to counter Russia,” said Bruno Lété, a defense analyst in the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

But many Europeans see themselves as in the line of fire with the new Russian cruise missile deployments, he said. “There is a clear incentive for NATO to see if they can upgrade the existing systems to counter Russian intermediary missiles,” Mr. Lété said. “From a military perspective, this would be a relatively simple, decisive and cost-effective step.”

Russian military doctrine, according to American and European military strategists, is increasingly focused on using limited nuclear strikes to quickly end a potential conflict in Moscow’s favor. Such a use of nuclear weapons for a battlefield effect is unthinkable to European politicians and has made some allied officials more open to examining the practicality of using the existing missile defense system to defend against Russia.

“We want to make sure the Russians don’t want to exercise nuclear blackmail, and missile defense is the way to take away that intimidation, to deter that intimidation,” Mr. Townsend said.

American officials have focused on trying to deter Russian intermediate-range missiles by quickly developing their own ground-launched cruise missile, a class the I.N.F. treaty has banned. Many in the alliance oppose deploying new offensive weapons. NATO planners are not expecting a directive to add offensive capabilities, only to expand defensive measures, the senior allied official said.

Since April, the Aegis site in Romania has been undergoing an upgrade. Officials said it was long planned and did not involve recalibrating the system.

If the alliance wants to counter Russian cruise missiles, it may make more sense to deploy new technologies like directed-energy lasers, microwaves or electronic warfare measures, said Mark Gunzinger, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

“We have invested in ballistic missile defenses, but frankly the cruise missile threat is a growing threat and we just haven’t fielded the capabilities to deal with it,” Mr. Gunzinger said.

Even if the alliance opts not to upgrade its Aegis Ashore sites, Mr. Gunzinger said, Russia’s new weapons will force it to field new air and missile defenses. Without them, it would be difficult to reinforce its front-line troops during a conflict, he said.

“Deterring Russia is going to take a different posture in Europe,” Mr. Gunzinger said. “It will take air and missile defenses to counter their salvos, it will take electronic warfare capabilities, it will take long-range precision strike.”

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North Korea Tests New Weapon

Westlake Legal Group 17nkorea-1sub-facebookJumbo North Korea Tests New Weapon United States International Relations United States Trump, Donald J South Korea North Korea Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Kim Jong-un Embargoes and Sanctions

WASHINGTON — North Korea said on Thursday that it test-fired a new type of “tactical guided weapon,” in what appeared to be a warning from Kim Jong-un to President Trump that unless once-promising negotiations with Washington resume, the two countries could again be on a collision course.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency did not specify what type of weapon was involved in the test. But there was no evidence the test involved a nuclear detonation or an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The North has observed a voluntary moratorium of those tests since November 2017, and President Trump has repeatedly said that the North’s self-imposed suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests was one of his administration’s biggest achievements, crediting himself with averting war by first threatening the North with “fire and fury” and then holding two face-to-face meetings with Mr. Kim.

But at the latest of those meetings, in Hanoi in February, the two leaders failed to reach an agreement, after Mr. Trump rejected, at the insistence of his top advisers, Mr. Kim’s proposal to lift the harshest sanctions on the North in return for suspending operations at North Korea’s largest nuclear facility. Since then, there has been virtually no communication, much less negotiation, between the two countries.

Now Mr. Kim appears to be carefully calibrating his expressions of displeasure.

Experts said it was likely that the test announced on Thursday morning in Pyongyang was a demonstration of a conventional weapons system, perhaps artillery or antiaircraft. If so, that would amount to signal-sending by Mr. Kim, who North Korea media said witnessed the test.

His presence sent an unmistakable message: That the North would continue to amass new arms while the standoff with Washington continued. Mr. Kim hailed the event as having “very weighty significance.”

In recent days the North Korean leader has said he would give the United States until the end of the year to come up with concrete proposals that would lift sanctions on the North — an implicit warning that, after that deadline, it might resume the nuclear and intercontinental missile testing that had appeared, in the summer of 2017, to be leading to conflict.

But the announcement of Thursday’s test suggested that Mr. Kim was willing to consider gradually raising the stakes sooner, and making Mr. Trump fear that his signature foreign policy initiative could collapse before the 2020 elections.

Mr. Kim has also been under pressure at home, where many expected him to return from Hanoi celebrating a lifting of the sanctions that have weighed heavily on the North Korean economy.

The breakdown of the Hanoi summit was considered a huge embarrassment for Mr. Kim. He took a 65-hour-long train ride to meet Mr. Trump in Hanoi and had to return home without badly needed relief from sanctions. Following the breakdown, satellite imagery showed new activities at some of the North’s long-range rocket test and missile development sites.

Shin Beom-chul, a North Korea expert at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul, said that with this test, Mr. Kim was exhorting his people to prepare for a military standoff with the United States while at the same time putting pressure on Washington.

“This time he tried a conventional-weapon test, but he is clearly signaling that if the Americans don’t offer a compromise by the end of the year, he will switch to more provocative strategic-weapons tests beginning next year,” Mr. Shin said.

But the test also revealed Mr. Kim’s growing desperation, said Woo Jung-yeop, a North Korea expert at the Sejong Institute in South Korea.

“Kim Jong-un could not dare a big provocation, but he had to try something to show that North Korea remains a threat and to draw a reluctant United States back to the negotiating table,” said Mr. Woo.

The White House had no immediate comment on the test.

Several days ago, appearing with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, Mr. Trump for the first time suggested he might be willing to entertain a “step-by-step” deal to denuclearization — contradicting his own senior aides, who had been insisting in public comments and private briefings with reporters that only a full dismantlement of the North’s nuclear weapons, missiles and facilities would result in the lifting of sanctions.

At the meeting in Hanoi, the second between the two leaders who first met in Singapore in June 2018, Mr. Trump had proposed exactly that grand bargain: North Korea would get rid of its entire nuclear weapons arsenal, as well as the material and facilities needed to build and test the weapons, in exchange for an end to the American-led sanctions.

Mr. Kim put forth a much more modest bargain in Hanoi. The North would dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear complex, an aging facility at the heart of its nuclear program, for an end to the sanctions most damaging to its economy, those enacted since 2016.

Talks quickly broke down, and the summit collapsed, with both sides pointing fingers.

In a speech earlier this year, Mr. Kim warned that his country might take a “new way” of protecting its interest if the United States insisted on maintaining sanctions.

During Thursday’s test of the weapon, which was conducted by the North’s Academy of Defense Science, Mr. Kim said its development “serves as an event of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power of the People’s Army,” the North Korean news agency said.

The test was the first since last November when the country said Mr. Kim had attended the test of an unidentified “newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon.”

After that test, the South Korean news media, quoting government sources, said that North Korea appeared to have tested multiple-rocket launchers, not missiles. Besides the North’s nuclear weapons and missiles, which are probably capable of reaching the continental United States, such rockets are considered one of the greatest military threats to South Korea, because the North deploys them near the countries’ border to target the South’s capital, Seoul, a city of 10 million people.

The Defense Ministry of South Korea did not immediately comment on the North’s latest weapon test. But officials there said the test of a “tactical weapon” indicated that Mr. Kim was being careful not to step over the line by conducting nuclear and long-range ballistic missile tests.

While Mr. Kim is clearly impatient with Washington, he has avoided direct criticism of Mr. Trump. Instead, he has portrayed other members of the administration as hawks, or warmongers, making clear the only way to resolve the issues is in personality-driven diplomacy with Mr. Trump.

But some analysts in South Korea had warned that the North might resort to low-level provocations, like rocket or even short-range ballistic missile tests, to increase its bargaining power should Mr. Trump not return to the negotiating table with a compromise.

North Korea has a history of using the prospect of rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula as leverage when negotiations with Washington do not go in its favor.

Mr. Trump, who has said he and Mr. Kim “fell in love,” has said he would be “very disappointed” if the North resumes weapons tests. But he also said he was in no hurry to meet Mr. Kim again. United States officials hope that sanctions will eventually force North Korea back to the negotiating table with a more palatable offer to denuclearize.

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North Korea Tests New Weapon, State News Agency Says

Westlake Legal Group north-korea-tests-new-weapon-state-news-agency-says North Korea Tests New Weapon, State News Agency Says North Korea Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Kim Jong-un
Westlake Legal Group 17nkorea-hp-promo-facebookJumbo North Korea Tests New Weapon, State News Agency Says North Korea Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Kim Jong-un

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said on Thursday that its leader, Kim Jong-un, had supervised the test-firing of a new type of tactical guided weapon.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency did not specify what type of weapon was involved in the test, leaving it unclear whether it was a missile.

North Korea had declared a moratorium on nuclear weapons and long-range missile tests after the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017. President Trump has considered the North’s self-imposed moratorium his administration’s biggest achievement in its dealings with North Korea.

The United States has been attempting to negotiate with the North for months to end its increasingly sophisticated nuclear weapons and missile programs. But the last summit meeting in February between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim abruptly ended without a deal.

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