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SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Friday it has fired a new anti-aircraft missile, the fourth weapons launch in recent weeks, which experts say is part of a strategy to get relief from economic sanctions and win other concessions.
South Korea, Japan and the United States typically confirm North Korean ballistic missile launches, which are banned by UN resolutions, shortly after they take place. But they didn’t before Thursday’s launch, indicating that the weapon being tested may have been of a different kind. Seoul’s joint chiefs of staff said on Friday that South Korean and US intelligence agencies were monitoring North Korea’s movements, but did not elaborate.
Three weeks ago, North Korea resumed missile tests after a six-month hiatus. As it has sometimes done before, North Korea combined the display of violence with a more conciliatory gesture, by offering hotlines earlier this week that North and South Korea use to organize meetings, manage border crossings and prevent accidental clashes. , to reactivate.
On Friday, the North Korean Central News Agency said the anti-aircraft missile test was “of very practical significance in studying and developing various future anti-aircraft missile systems.”
Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said the launch appears to be the primitive stage of a test to develop a missile designed to shoot down incoming enemy missiles and aircraft. . He said the missile resembles the Russian-made S-400 air defense system, which he said has a maximum range of 400 kilometers (250 miles) and is reportedly capable of intercepting stealth jets.
The UN Security Council received a briefing on the recent launches and the humanitarian and COVID-19 situations in North Korea during a closed-door emergency meeting on Friday, but took no action.
France later released a proposed statement saying diplomats were concerned about the missile launches and called on North Korea to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions banning ballistic missile launches. But Russia and China have not considered a council statement in a timely manner, diplomats said, so its approval remains uncertain.
Earlier this week, in his administration’s latest mixed message, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his willingness to restore communication hotlines with South Korea in the coming days, but also shrugged off US offers for dialogue. as a “sly” disguise of his hostility to North Korea. He also urged South Korea to give up its “double-dealing stance” if it wants to see an improvement in Korean relations. His comments largely matched the demands of his powerful sister Kim Yo Jong, who has spearheaded the North’s ongoing pressure campaign.
South Korea has said it would prepare to restore cross-border telephone and fax lines, which have been largely dormant for more than a year. But as of Friday afternoon, North Korea did not respond to South Korea’s attempt to exchange messages through the channels, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which regulates relations with the North.
At an Armed Forces Day ceremony on Friday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in vowed to repel any attempt to threaten the lives of his people and strive for lasting peace. He did not mention North Korea’s recent tests in a possible attempt to keep alive the possibility of talks between the Koreas.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that U.S. officials were still reviewing the most recent missile launch. She said officials from the Biden administration have made efforts to reach out to North Korea to boost negotiations, but have received no response.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Thursday that Washington “definitely supports” inter-Korean dialogue in principle. But he said the US was concerned about North Korea’s recent launches, which he said violated UN Security Council resolutions and “created greater prospects of instability and insecurity”.
Among the weapons North Korea tested in September were a hypersonic missile, a newly developed cruise missile and a ballistic missile launched from a train. South Korea’s military ruled that the hypersonic missile is in early development, but experts say the other weapons demonstrated North Korea’s ability to attack targets in South Korea and Japan, key US allies house troops. Earlier this week, the US Indo-Pacific Command said its commitment to defending South Korea and Japan remains “cast-in-one”.
North Korea hasn’t tested a long-range missile that can reach the U.S. mainland in about four years — which experts see as an indication that it is carefully calibrating its provocations to keep its chances of diplomacy alive.
This article corrects that it is a deal between the US and the UK to supply nuclear submarines to Australia, not the US and the UN
Associated Press writers Edith M. Lederer of the United Nations and Matthew Lee of Washington contributed to this report.
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