North Korea Continues a Barrage of Missile Tests
SEOUL — North Korea said on Friday that it had test-launched a newly developed antiaircraft missile, carrying out the latest in a flurry of weapons tests in recent weeks even as it has declared an openness to dialogue with the South.
The newest launch, conducted on Thursday, tested a land-to-air missile that has greater range, speed and accuracy than previous missiles, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said on Friday.
The South Korean government has not commented publicly about the North’s missile test, and it did not report the launch when it took place on Thursday. The South’s military reports tests of North Korean ballistic missiles, which violate United Nations resolutions, immediately after they happen. But it has often not done so when the North tests cruise missiles or other weapons considered less threatening.
From a photo of the new missile released by North Korean media, analysts in South Korea said on Friday that the weapon looked like one that the North had unveiled during military parades last October and in January. Weapons on display during the parades included a new land-to-air missile fired from a vehicle with four launch tubes.
In recent years, North Korea has bitterly complained about the United States’ sales of sophisticated weapons, especially F-35 fighter jets, to the South, saying they raised tensions on the Korean Peninsula and compelled the North to build up its own war deterrent, including a nuclear arsenal.
The test on Thursday was the second this week. On Wednesday, the North said it had test-launched what it called a hypersonic missile, a highly sophisticated weapon also being developed by elite military powers like the United States and Russia. The new weapon, the Hwasong-8, was a ballistic missile tipped with a hypersonic gliding warhead designed to detach midair.
The South Korean military said that the Hwasong-8 was in an early stage of development. But the test was the latest signal that North Korea is developing missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads that would be harder to intercept by missile defense systems deployed by the United States and its allies South Korea and Japan.
In 2017, North Korea test-launched three intercontinental ballistic missiles and conducted its sixth underground nuclear test. By the end of the year, the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, claimed that his country had the ability to launch a nuclear strike against the continental United States.
He then met with President Donald J. Trump three times to push the United States to lift international sanctions imposed on his country, offering a partial rollback of his nuclear weapons program in return.
After his negotiations with Mr. Trump collapsed, Mr. Kim began ramping up his weapons programs again. During a congress of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party in January, Mr. Kim offered an unusually detailed list of weapons that he said his country was developing to help counter foreign aggression.
North Korea has conducted seven missile tests since the congress, violating United Nations resolutions that ban the country from developing ballistic missiles.
President Biden has warned of “responses” if North Korea continues to escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula, but he has not imposed new sanctions, even as the country’s violations of U.N. resolutions have become routine. The United States has tried both sanctions and dialogue to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programs. Neither has worked.
Late last month, Mr. Kim’s sister and spokeswoman, Kim Yo-jong, said that the North would consider holding a summit meeting with South Korea and declaring an official end to the Korean War if Seoul could restore trust with Pyongyang. This week, Mr. Kim said he was open to restoring a communications hotline with the South that was severed this summer.