SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired a short-range missile into the sea Tuesday at nearly the same moment its U.N. diplomat was decrying the U.S.’s “hostile policy” against it, in an apparent return to its pattern of mixing weapons displays with peace overtures to wrest outside concessions.

The launch was its third round this month of weapon firings. It came just three days after North Korea reiterated its offer to hold conditional talks with South Korea .. Experts believe the latest missile launch was intended to test how South Korea would react as North Korea requires Seoul in order to convince Washington to relax economic sanctions and make other concessions.

In an emergency meeting of the National Security Council, the South Korean government expressed its regret at the “short-range missile launch” from North Korea. South Korea ‘s army earlier stated that the object launched from North Korea ”s mountainous northern Jagang Province flew towards the waters off North Korea’s eastern coast. Additional details about the launch are being investigated.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command stated that the launch did not pose a threat, but pointed out “the destabilizing effect of (North Korea ‘s” illicit weapons program. Yoshihide Suuga, Japan’s Prime Minister, said North Korea launched “what could have been a ballistic missile” to indicate that his government had increased its surveillance and vigilance

A ballistic missile launch would be a violation of a U.N. Security Council ban against North Korean ballistic activities. However, the council doesn’t usually impose new sanctions North Korea for launches short-range weapons.

The launch was after Kim Yo Jong (the influential sister to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un) reached out to Seoul twice last Friday and Saturday to say that her country is open to talks and reconciliation steps, provided conditions are met. She criticised Seoul for calling Pyongyang’s missile tests provocative and demanded that it abandon “unfair doubledealing standards and hostile policies

.” Her overture came after the North launched two missile launches this month, the first with a new cruise missile and the second with a ballistic missile fired out of a train. This was a new launch platform. Those launches demonstrated North Korea‘s ability to attack targets in South Korea and Japan, both key U.S. allies where a total of 80,000 American troops are stationed.

Tuesday’s launch “was like testing the South Korean government to see if it would impose a double standard and call it a provocation,” said analyst Shin Beomchul with the Seoul-based Korea Research Institute for National Strategy. He stated that North Korea ”s status as a nuclear state would be confirmed if South Korea does not respond strongly.

Kim Dong-yub is a professor at University of North Korean Studies Seoul. He said North Korea might have tested a hypersonic glider that was one of the high-tech weapons Kim Jong Un promised to purchase.

South Korea praised Kim Yo-jong for being open to negotiations, but asked North Korea for a restoration of communication channels before talks between the rivals could be organized.

The inter-Korean communication lines have remained largely dormant for about 15 months, so restoring them could be a yardstick to assess how serious the North is about its offer. Seoul s Unification Ministry stated Tuesday that North Korea is still not responsive to South Korea ‘s attempts to communicate over the channels.

Nearly at the same time as Tuesday’s launch, North Korean Ambassador Kim Song used a speech on Tuesday’s last day of U.N. General Assembly’s annual high-level meetings to justify his country’s creation of a “war defense” to protect itself from the U.S. Threats.

The possibility of a new conflict on the Korean Peninsula has been contained by the U.S. not because of its mercy on the DPRK. It is because our state is building a reliable deterrent to control hostile forces in an attempted invasion of the Korean Peninsula,” Kim stated. DPRK is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea North Korea ‘s official name.

Kim Yo Jong’s offer of conditional talks was a response to South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s renewed calls for a political declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula in a technical state of war.

The three-year conflict saw South Korea and U.S. U.N . troops fighting North Korea , and China. It resulted in the deaths of 1,000,000 to 2 million people. Moon suggested that the cease-of-war declaration between the U.S., China and Koreas be signed at the U.N . last Wednesday.

Moon’s office said that after Tuesday’s North launch, Moon directed officials to thoroughly examine the latest weapons firings and outreaches in order to formulate countermeasures.

A U.S.-led diplomatic initiative to convince North Korea of its nuclear weapons has been stopped for 2 1/2 years. While the U.S. has expressed hope for more talks, they have made it clear that the long-term sanctions against North Korea will remain in place until North Korea takes concrete steps towards denuclearization.

While North Korea tested short-range weapons, and promised to build its nuclear arsenal further, Kim Jong Un has kept a moratorium from testing longer-range weapons that could reach the American homeland. This is an indication that he wants to preserve the prospects for future diplomatic relations with the U.S.

While North Koreahas tested short-range weapons and vowed to continue building its nuclear arsenal, Kim Jong ]Un, however, has maintained a moratorium on testing longer-range weapons capable of reaching the American homeland. This is an indication that he wants to keep the chances for future diplomacy with the U.S. alive.

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Associated Press writers Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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