Acting Pentagon chief: North Korea weapon test was 'not a ballistic missile'

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanOvernight Defense: US strike in Somalia kills ISIS deputy | Trump’s love of acting officials | Terrorist designation against Iranian military unit takes effect | Kim sets deadline for talks with US Trump learns to love acting officials Overnight Defense: Shanahan expects more troops to deploy to border | Transgender ban takes effect | International court rejects probe into alleged Afghanistan war crimes MORE confirmed Thursday that North Korea conducted a weapons test the day before, but said the weapon was “not a ballistic missile.”

“I’m not going to go into the detailed intelligence, but the way I’d characterize is it is not a ballistic missile,” Shanahan told reporters ahead of a meeting with Albania’s defense minister.

Pressed on whether North Korea fired something into the air or conducted a ground test, Shanahan said “you could use shoot, launch, test — they’re very synonymous terms.”

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He did not directly answer a question on whether the weapon was a new capability.

“I’m not being cagey here, it’s just what’s important is it wasn’t ballistic,” he said.

Shanahan added that there has been “no change to our posture or to our operations” after the test.

North Korean state media announced Wednesday night that leader Kim Jong Un had observed the test firing of a “new-type tactical guided weapon.”

Kim called the test “an event of very weighty significance,” according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

KCNA did not specify what type of weapon was tested, but experts noted the use of the word “tactical” appeared to imply something short-range.

As such, the test did not appear to violate North Korea’s self-imposed moratorium on missile and nuclear tests.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel ‘inappropriate’ press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release ‘lightly redacted’ version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of ‘unprecedented steps’ to ‘spin’ Mueller report MORE has said he is in no rush to reach a denuclearization deal with Kim so long as he maintains the moratorium.

Wednesday’s test was being interpreted as a sign of increasing impatience by North Korea as talks with Trump stall.

Shanahan said Thursday he did not want to “rush” to judgment on the message being sent by North Korea ahead of fully analyzing intelligence. But the fact that the weapon was not a ballistic missile is “a statement in and of itself,” he said.

A February summit between Trump and Kim ended with an impasse over sanctions relief, and there have been no signs of closing the gap between Washington and Pyongyang since.

Last week, Kim said he would be open to a third summit with Trump, but gave the United States until the end of the year to be more flexible in negotiations.

Trump responded by touting his “excellent” personal relationship with Kim.

“I agree with Kim Jong Un of North Korea that our personal relationship remains very good, perhaps the term excellent would be even more accurate, and that a third Summit would be good in that we fully understand where we each stand,” Trump tweeted Saturday.

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