North Korea Conducts Fourth Missile Test in One Month

North Korean state media reported that the country carried out its fourth test launch of an anti-aircraft missile in September, allegedly using new missile technology.

North Korea’s Central News Agency (KCNA) posted an image of a “newly developed anti-air missile,” which was fired Thursday using a launch vehicle from an undeclared location.

Missile analysts said the test appeared to reflect a relatively minor development but was part of North Korea’s broad strategy to rapidly modernize and showcase its missile fleet.

“They seem to suggest this is a more reliable missile than the Pongae-5,” said Ankit Panda, a nuclear policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, referring to North Korea’s earlier anti-aircraft missiles that were “a little messed up”.

North Korea in 2017 declared the Pongae-5 capable of operating, after overcoming what state media described as “some shortcomings”. The missiles were meant to challenge South Korean and United States (US) aircraft in the event of war.

State media gave few details about the latest test, which was carried out on the last day of a particularly busy launch month for North Korea.

North Korea’s test in September also involved a new long-range cruise missile, a short-range ballistic missile launched from a new platform, a train, and a new hypersonic missile.

Most of the tests appear to be aimed at making North Korean short-range missiles more difficult to detect and intercept. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has previously hinted he could resume long-range missile tests, which hasn’t happened since 2017.

North Korea under several UN Security Council resolutions, is prohibited from carrying out any ballistic missile activity, both short and long range. However, US officials in recent years have generally downplayed North Korea’s short-range missile tests.

Under President Joe Biden, US officials have said repeatedly that they are willing to go “anywhere at any time” for talks with North Korean officials.

US-North Korea nuclear negotiations have been at a standstill since 2019.

In a speech this week, Kim rejected an offer of US talks, saying it was just a show to cover up what he called Washington’s “aggressive policies”.

North Korea has often resisted the US military presence in East Asia, joint US-South Korean military exercises, and South Korean military modernization.

“There is no change at all in the US military threats and hostile policies towards us and conversely, their expressions and methods have become more cunning,” Kim said, according to KCNA.

In response to Kim’s speech, the State Department stressed that the US had “no hostile intent” toward North Korea. (my/rs)

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