3 hours ago
North Korea has announced that it has tested a new anti-aircraft missile, the fourth “new weapon” it says it has tested in less than a month.
The move, announced Thursday, came days after North Korea launched a hypersonic missile believed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the tests of these new weapons “create an atmosphere of increasing instability and anxiety in the region.”
He added in press statements that North Korea’s repeated tests violate UN Security Council resolutions prohibiting Pyongyang’s launch of these weapons.
Pyongyang says it needs these weapons to be able to defend itself, and accuses Washington and South Korea of double standards.
Recent experiences show that North Korea has no intention of slowing down its accelerating arms program despite tough international sanctions.
According to North Korea’s local news network KCNA, the new missile “demonstrated high capabilities and its manufacture included major modern technologies.”
The day before the missile test, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced a conditional initiative for calm with South Korea, saying that he wanted to restore vital contacts between the two Koreas.
According to the South Korean Ministry of Unification, Pyongyang did not respond to any of the messages sent by South Korea through the communication channels between the two countries, and did not respond to any of them.
Jong-un accused the United States of “exploiting diplomatic communications,” saying that “this is nothing more than a naive trick, to manipulate the international community and hide its hostile actions.”
Some experts believe that North Korea is working to create a rift between the United States and South Korea, as it seeks to restore relations with Seoul on the one hand, and cut it off with Washington on the other.
Thursday’s test launch coincided with South Korea’s celebration of Armed Forces Day, which witnessed a military parade attended by the country’s president and senior officials.
Nevertheless, it appears that Pyongyang is counting on Seoul to push the United States to ease sanctions imposed on it, or gain recognition from the international community that it is a nuclear power.
North Korea has spent more than a year in complete isolation, severing trade ties with its closest ally, China, during the coronavirus pandemic. It is believed that the North Korean economy is in a miserable state, as the country suffers from an acute shortage of food supplies.
About seven months ago, Pyongyang defied international sanctions and test-fired a new ballistic missile, which drew strong criticism from Washington, Japan and South Korea.
The International Atomic Energy Organization said last week that North Korea had restarted a nuclear reactor that could produce weapons-grade plutonium, a development the organization called a “deeply concerning” development.
South Korea, Japan and the United States used to be quick to talk about North Korea’s weapons launches. But this did not happen with the latest test, which may indicate that the launch was marginal.
The chief of staff in South Korea said that the Korean and US intelligence are monitoring the developments, without giving further details.
It is noteworthy that diplomatic contacts regarding the nuclear file between North Korea and the United States have been suspended since 2019.
North Korea has not tested any ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States in the past four years, indicating Pyongyang’s desire to maintain chances of a diplomatic solution to the dispute.