Kim Jong Un
Kim Jong Un KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test-firing of a new guided weapons system to improve the country’s "tactical nukes", AFP reported Sunday, citing state media.

The launch was the latest in an unprecedented blitz of sanctions-busting weapons-tests this year, which included firing an intercontinental ballistic missile at full range for the first time since 2017.

The launch also comes just ahead of US-South Korea military training exercises that are due to begin on Monday and which outrage Pyongyang.

The "new-type tactical guided weapon... is of great significance in drastically improving the firepower of the frontline long-range artillery units and enhancing the efficiency in the operation of tactical nukes," the North's official KCNA news agency reported.

It said the test was successful, but did not specify when or where it took place.

The United States was "aware of the North Korean statement that they conducted a test of a long range artillery system", a Pentagon spokesperson said, adding it was monitoring.

A senior US official said recently that two recent missile tests conducted by North Korea were of a new ICBM system.

Washington's special envoy for North Korean affairs said at the start of April that the United States plans to introduce a new resolution in the UN Security Council in response to North Korea's recent ballistic missile tests.

North Korea has ramped up its missile tests ever since talks with Washington on denuclearization failed.

Former US President Donald Trump tried to reach an agreement with North Korea while in office. Kim and Trump met in Hanoi in 2019 for a summit that left nuclear talks at a standstill.

The pair had met three times since June 2018 but made little progress towards denuclearization.

The Biden administration reached out to North Korea shortly after taking office, but the country did not respond to those overtures.

In Biden’s first policy speech to Congress, he said nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran posed threats that would be addressed through “diplomacy and stern deterrence”.

Responding to that speech, North Korea dismissed the idea of talks with Washington, saying Biden’s speech was “intolerable” and “a big blunder."