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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

North Korea Conducts Fourth Missile Test of September

By William Gallo September 30, 2021

North Korea has test-fired an anti-aircraft missile, its fourth set of launches in September using allegedly new missile technology, the country's state media reported.

The Korean Central News Agency posted a single picture of the "newly developed anti-air missile," fired Thursday using a mobile launch vehicle from an undeclared location.

Missile analysts said the test appeared to represent a relatively minor development but was part of a broader North Korean strategy of rapidly modernizing and showing off its missile fleet.

"It appears they're suggesting this is a more capable [surface-to-air missile] than the Pongae-5," an existing anti-aircraft missile that was "a bit of a mess," said Ankit Panda, a nuclear policy specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

North Korea declared the Pongae-5 operationally capable in 2017, after overcoming what state media called "some defects." The missiles are meant to provide a challenge for South Korean and U.S. aircraft during a hypothetical war.

Busy month

State media provided very few details about the latest test, which came on the last day of a very busy month of North Korean launches.

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

Most of the tests appeared aimed at making North Korea's shorter-range missiles harder to detect and intercept. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has hinted he may also resume long-range missile tests, which have not occurred since 2017.

North Korea is banned from conducting any ballistic missile activity — short or long range — under multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions. However, U.S. officials in recent years have mostly downplayed the North's tests of short-range missiles.

Under President Joe Biden, U.S. officials have repeatedly said they are willing to go "anywhere, anytime" to hold talks with North Korean officials. U.S.-North Korea nuclear negotiations have been stalled since 2019.

'Hostile policy'

In a speech this week, Kim dismissed the U.S. offer of talks, saying it was only a show to cover up what he called Washington's "hostile policy."

North Korea regularly objects to the U.S. military presence in East Asia, U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises and South Korea's military modernization.

"There is no change in the U.S. military threat to and hostile policy toward us at all, and instead, their expressions and methods get more cunning," Kim said, according to KCNA.

Responding to Kim's speech, the State Department stressed in an email to the VOA Korean Service that the U.S. "harbors no hostile intent" toward North Korea.

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