North Korea on Friday said it had test-fired a newly developed anti-aircraft missile, in the fourth launch this month, as it tries to reopen stalled communications with South Korea.
This month, North Korea resumed its first missile tests in six months but still offered conditional talks with Seoul in what some experts say is an attempt to gain outside concessions.
On Thursday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed his willingness to restore hotlines with South Korea in coming days to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The test-launch performed on Thursday was “of very practical significance in studying and developing various prospective anti-aircraft missile system", the Korean Central News Agency reported.
It said the test was aimed at confirming the practicality of operating the launcher, radar and comprehensive battle command vehicle, and the combat performance of the missile.
South Korea, Japan and the US usually confirm soon after North Korea carries out missile tests. But the North’s neighbouring countries did not report its Thursday test, suggesting it may not be a major weapons trial.
While announcing his intentions to reopen the hotlines, Mr Kim still shrugged off US offers for dialogue as “cunning ways” to conceal its hostility against the North. He defended his country’s latest weapons tests.
Mr Kim also echoed his influential sister Kim Yo-jong’s demand that South Korea abandon its “double-dealing attitude” and “hostile viewpoint” over the North’s missile tests and other developments if it wants to resume talks and steps towards reconciliation.
Some experts say North Korea is pressuring the South to tone down its criticism of its ballistic missile tests, which are banned by UN Security Council resolutions, as part of its quest for international recognition as a nuclear power.
Others say Pyongyang wants Seoul to persuade the US to ease punishing economic sanctions imposed on it.