Monday's test was North Korea’s fourth missile launch this month, and its second since its Foreign Ministry issued a warning about stronger and more specific action following the Biden administration's last week imposition of new sanctions for the continued North Korean weapons display.
Experts believe that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is using his old strategy of brinkmanship to win concessions from Washington and other neighbors, as he struggles with an economic crisis and pandemic-related problems. Kim has little to show for the diplomatic efforts he made with the U.S. after they rejected North Korea's demand for significant sanctions relief in return for partial surrender of its nukes.
According to the official North Korean Central News Agency, the test was intended to assess missiles already in production and deployment. KCNA stated that missiles "precisely struck a sea target in order to confirm the system’s accuracy, security, and efficiency.
The missiles weren't identified in the report. Kim Dong-yub is a professor at Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies. He said that state media photos indicate that the North has tested a short-range weapon similar to the U.S. MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System.
The missile was first tested in 2019 and is part of North Korea’s growing short-range weaponry. Experts believe that the missiles are designed to overwhelm missile defenses in North Asia. The missiles it launched on Friday were another short-range weapon, apparently modeled after Russia's Iskander mobile bombistic system.
These missiles are capable of carrying nuclear weapons and are designed to fly at low altitudes and maneuver easily, giving them theoretically a greater chance of evading or defeating missile defense systems.
Park Won Gon is a professor at Seoul’s Ewha Womans University. She said that North Korea's mass production and development of short-range weapons was a crucial part of its efforts to establish itself as a nuclear power, in the hope of winning economic concessions from other countries.
The North has rejected Biden's open-ended offers of talks to the North, saying that Washington must abandon "hostile" policies.
It is possible that even if negotiations are resumed, it will be difficult to completely remove all the short-range missiles North Korea has produced. Park stated that Kim Jong Un clearly wants to transform the diplomatic process with Washington into an arms reduction negotiation between nuclear states. He rejects any process that would result in a unilateral surrender. This is his strongest guarantee of survival.
The U.S. Treasury Department placed sanctions on five North Koreans last week for their involvement in obtaining technology and equipment for North Korea's missile programs. This was in response to North Korea testing a hypersonic missile.
The State Department placed sanctions on a Russian man, another North Korean and a Russian company in response to their support for North Korea's weapons-of-mass destruction activities. Additionally, the Biden administration stated that it will pursue U.N. sanctions against another North Korean for its continued testing.