North Korea fires new anti-aircraft missile in latest weapons test

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SEOUL, Sept. 30 (UPI) — North Korea launched a new anti-aircraft missile capable of hitting targets at greater distances, state media reported Friday, marking the secretive state’s fourth weapons test in the past two weeks.

The test was carried out by the North’s Academy of Defense Science on Thursday, which also confirmed the missile’s performance as well as the operation of the launcher, radar and command vehicle, according to a report in state-run Korean Central News Agency.

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New developments including “twin-rudder control technology” and a “double-impulse flight engine” were verified, according to the report, bringing about a “substantial increase in the rapid responsiveness and guidance accuracy of missile control system as well as the distance of downing air targets.”

“The comprehensive test will be of very practical significance in the prospective research and development of various anti-aircraft missile systems,” the Academy of Defense Science said, according to KCNA.

Pak Jong Chon, a member of the ruling Workers’ Party politburo, was on hand to oversee the launch, KCNA reported. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un apparently did not attend.

The launch was the latest in a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang, including the firing of a new hypersonic missile on Tuesday and long-range cruise missiles in mid-September, amid stalled talks with the United States.

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Kim Jong Un condemned Washington’s “hostile policy” and called its diplomatic outreach efforts “petty tricks” during an address to parliament on Wednesday.

Officials in the administration of President Joe Biden have frequently repeated that they are willing to meet their North Korean counterparts without any preconditions. The two sides have not had any substantial negotiations since a February 2019 summit between then-President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un ended without an agreement.

Pyongyang has recently softened its tone toward Seoul, however, a move that analysts have said is an effort to drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States in order to extract concessions such as sanctions relief before restarting dialogue.

In his Wednesday address, Kim said he planned to reopen severed communications lines with Seoul in early October and claimed the North had “neither aim nor reason to provoke [S]outh Korea and no idea to harm it.”

However, Kim criticized joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises and said Seoul would have to end its “double-dealing attitude and hostile viewpoint and policies” before relations can improve.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has recently pushed for a declaration to officially end the Korean War. The 1950-53 conflict ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas technically still at war.

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In a speech at the United Nations General Assembly last week, Moon said an end-of-war declaration would bring “irreversible progress in denuclearization and usher in an era of complete peace.”

Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of Kim Jong Un, called the proposal “an interesting and an admirable idea” last week.