North Korea fires missile as UN envoy insists on ‘right to test weapons’

North Korea has fired a missile off its east coast, South Korea's military says, as Pyongyang slammed US “hostile policy” and called on Washington and Seoul to scrap their "double standards" on its weapons program.

The projectile was fired from the northern province of Jagang towards the sea, according to the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

North Korea’s test launch came just moments before its envoy to the United Nations was set to address the UN General Assembly in New York.

Kim Song told the UNGA that, “Nobody can deny the right to self-defense for the DPRK,” calling for the United States to give up its “hostile policy” towards Pyongyang. 

Referring to South Korea and the United States, he insisted that Pyongyang will continue “to develop, test, manufacture and possess the weapon systems equivalent to the ones which are possessed or being developed by them.”

“We are just building up our national defense in order to defend ourselves and reliably safeguard the security and peace of the country,” Kim noted.

He said it was North Korea’s growing deterrent that was responsible for preventing war on the Korean Peninsula, not “the US’s mercy.”

The North Korea’s UN envoy also said if the United States dropped its hostile policy and “double standards,” it would respond “willingly at any time” to offers of holding talks. 

“But it is our judgment that there is no prospect at the present stage for the US to really withdraw its hostile policy,” Kim said.

The South held an emergency National Security Council meeting after the test launch, expressing regret over what it called “a short-range missile launch at a time when political stability on the Korean Peninsula is very critical.”

Japan’s Defense Ministry said the launch could have been of a ballistic missile.

The North’s missile test, the third this month, drew condemnation from the United State, with the State Department calling on Pyongyang “to engage in dialogue.”

The department said in a statement that Washington “remain[s] committed to a diplomatic approach” to North’s Korea’s missile program.

“This launch is in violation of multiple UN Security Council Resolutions and poses a threat to the DPRK’s neighbors and the international community,” the State Department said, using the acronym for the North’s official name.

South Korea recently test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) for the first time.

A North Korean military think tank dismissed the SLBM test as rudimentary, but warned that the development of such weapons by Seoul would rekindle cross-border tension.

The two Koreas are technically still at war as the 1950-53 war between them ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Last week, South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in called for the declaration of an official end to the state of war with the North.

In a reaction to his remarks, the sister and key adviser of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, said Seoul needed to end its “hostile policies” towards Pyongyang.

Kim Yo-jong also said in a statement on Saturday that an inter-Korean summit, as well as discussions on a declaration to end the war, could be held, “only when impartiality and the attitude of respecting each other” are guaranteed.

The two neighbors are at loggerheads over strangling anti-North economic sanctions intended to force Pyongyang to give up its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, and the continued presence of 28,000 US troops in South Korea.

Seoul has also continued to engage in war games with the US, which the North has said indicate the South’s lack of seriousness about peace.

Communications between Seoul and Pyongyang have largely been cut in the aftermath of a second US-North Korea summit in Hanoi in February 2019.

The summit between Kim and then-US president Donald Trump collapsed after they were ultimately unable to reach an agreement.

The North held three successive rounds of inconclusive negotiations with the US under the Trump administration.

But there was no breakthrough in the talks as the US refused to lift its sanctions in exchange for concessions from the North.

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