North Korea said it launched an anti-aircraft missile in its fourth recent test

North Korea said on Friday it test-fired a new anti-aircraft missile, its fourth launch in recent weeks, which experts say is part of a strategy to ease economic sanctions and gain other concessions.

South Korea, Japan and the United States usually publicly confirm North Korean ballistic missile launches, which are prohibited by UN resolutions, soon after they occur. But they did not at launch on Thursday, suggesting that the weapon tested may have been of a different type. The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said on Friday that South Korean and US intelligence authorities had monitored North Korea’s movements, but gave no details.

Three weeks ago, North Korea resumed its missile tests after six months of calm. As it has at times before, North Korea has combined a show of force with a more conciliatory gesture, offering earlier this week to reactivate the hotlines that North and South Korea use to hold meetings, arrange border crossings and avoid accidental clashes.

On Friday, the North’s Korean Central News Agency said the anti-aircraft missile test was “of very practical importance in the study and development of various potential anti-aircraft missile systems”.

Kim Dong-yup, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said the launch appears to be the primitive stage of testing the development of a missile designed to shoot down incoming enemy missiles and aircraft. He said the missile is similar to the Russian-made S-400 air defense system, which he said has a maximum range of 400 kilometers (250 miles) and is said to be able to intercept stealth aircraft.

The United Nations Security Council was briefed on the recent launches, the humanitarian situation and COVID-19 in North Korea at a closed emergency meeting Friday, but took no action.

France later distributed a proposed statement that diplomats said expresses concern about the missile launches and calls on North Korea to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions banning its ballistic missile launches. But diplomats said Russia and China did not consider issuing a statement to the Security Council in time, so its approval remains uncertain.

Earlier this week, in the latest mixed signal from his government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his desire to restore hotlines of communication with South Korea in the coming days, but also dismissed US offers of dialogue as a “cunning” concealment of them. hostility against North Korea. He also insisted that South Korea drop its “dual-dealing attitude” if it wants to see an improvement in Korean relations. His comments largely reflected the demands of his staunch sister Kim Yo Jong, who has taken the lead in North Korea’s ongoing pressure campaign.

South Korea said it would prepare to restore cross-border phone and fax lines, which have been largely dormant for more than a year. But as of Friday afternoon, North Korea remained unresponsive to South Korea’s attempt to exchange messages through channels, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with North Korea.

During the Armed Forces Day celebration on Friday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in vowed to fend off any attempt to threaten the lives of his people and strive for lasting peace. He did not refer to recent tests conducted by North Korea in a possible attempt to keep alive the possibility of inter-Korean talks.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that US officials are still evaluating the latest missile launch. She said Biden administration officials made efforts to reach out to North Korea to stimulate talks but did not receive a response.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told reporters Thursday that Washington “definitely supports” the inter-Korean dialogue in principle. But he said the United States was concerned about North Korea’s recent launches, which he noted violated United Nations Security Council resolutions and created “greater potential for 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 has estimated the hypersonic missile is in an early stage of development, but experts say other weapons have demonstrated North Korea’s ability to attack targets in South Korea and Japan, key US allies that host US forces. Earlier this week, the US Indo-Pacific Command said its commitment to defending South Korea and Japan “remains resolute.”

North Korea has not tested a long-range missile capable of reaching the mainland United States in nearly four years — which experts see as an indication that it is carefully calibrating its provocations to preserve its chances in diplomacy.

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This article corrects that it is a US and British deal to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, not the US and the UN

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Associated Press writers Edith M. Leader at the United Nations and Matthew Lee in Washington.

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