SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea fired a newly developed anti-aircraft missile on Thursday, state media KCNA reported, the latest in a recent series of weapons tests that has come as denuclearisation talks with the United States have deadlocked.
It was North Korea’s second known weapons test this week after the launch of a previously unseen hypersonic missile on Tuesday. It has also fired ballistic missiles and a cruise missile with potential nuclear capabilities in recent weeks.
The U.N. Security Council met behind closed doors on Friday to discuss the latest tests and Washington said it was assessing the missile launches.
The tests highlighted how North Korea has been steadily developing increasingly sophisticated weapons, raising the stakes for efforts to press it to give up its nuclear and missile programmes in return for U.S. sanctions relief.
The Academy of Defence Science, a military weapons developer, said the test was aimed at confirming the practical functionality of the missile’s launcher, radar, comprehensive battle command vehicle and combat performance, the official KCNA news agency reported on Friday.
The missile has new key technologies such as twin rudder control and double impulse flight engine, it said.
South Korea’s military said detailed analysis was needed to verify the KCNA report.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not appear to have attended the test, which was instead overseen by Pak Jong Chon, a member of the ruling Workers’ Party’s powerful politburo and Central Committee.
“The remarkable combat performance of the new-type anti-aircraft missile with features of rapid responsiveness and guidance accuracy of missile control system as well as the substantial increase in the distance of downing air targets has been verified,” KCNA said, citing the academy.
North Korea has said in recent weeks that its weapons tests are aimed at boosting its defence capabilities just as other countries do, accusing the United States and South Korea of “double standards” and “hostile policy” toward it.
On Wednesday, Kim said he has no reasons to attack South Korea and was willing to reopen severed inter-Korean hotlines. But it criticised U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration for using “more cunning ways and methods” in pursuing hostile policy while proposing dialogue.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which is in charge of North Korean affairs, said the North did not answer the lines on Friday but it vowed to continue efforts to restore the channels and resume talks.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, in a speech celebrating the 73rd Armed Forces Day on Friday, did not refer to North Korea but said he was committed to fostering lasting peace while sternly responding to any life-threatening action.
Analysts say the North’s carrot-and-stick approach is aimed at securing international recognition as a nuclear weapons state and driving a wedge between the United States and South Korea, with an eye on Moon’s desire for a diplomatic legacy before his term ends in May.
The Biden administration has said it has no hostile intent toward North Korea and has called on it to accept its offers of talks to break the impasse over denuclearisation negotiations.
“We’ve made specific proposals for discussions with the North Koreans, but have not received a response to date and we remain prepared to discuss the full range of issues,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters. “We’re assessing the specific nature of these launch events.”
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York and Jeff Mason and Steve Holland in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler, Robert Birsel and Daniel Wallis)