The highly anticipated second meeting between US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Hanoi ended abruptly earlier this year without agreement after Washington refused to offer North Korea any relief from its economic sanctions while pushing for the country's complete nuclear disarmament.
In a speech before his rubber-stamp parliament last week, Kim said he is open to a third summit with Trump, but only if the United States changes its stance on sanctions enforcement and pressure by the end of the year.
In its second scathing critique of a high-ranking USA figure in less than a week, Pyongyang has described demands by the United States national security adviser, John Bolton, for proofs that North Korea is in the process of denuclearization as "nonsense".
The test came as denuclearization talks between the USA and North Korea have stalled following a failed second summit earlier this year in Vietnam between Kim and Trump. "They are giving the USA till the end of this year to make a deal, but in the meantime, they will bolster their capabilities, untethered from any agreement". "If he really wanted to do a formidable, important, heavy message to the US or South Korea, he would not have done a minimal test". US officials later played down the significance of that test.
Korean Central News Agency did not describe the weapon but "tactical" implies a short-range weapon, as opposed to the long-range ballistic missiles that have been considered a threat to the US.
"The development of the weapon system serves as an event of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power of the People's Army", Kim said in a statement after the test. North Korea has also emphasized that they like to deal with Trump directly.
"Looks like they are working on antiaircraft capabilities with the last test and this one", said Victor Cha, a North Korea expert at Georgetown University.
The Blue House believes that South Korea is "the architect" of the diplomatic process, a source said, and it is trying to reignite the momentum of dialogue toward another North Korea-South Korea summit which would could then lead to a third US-North Korea summit.
Despite the summit breakdown, North Korea had maintained a freeze in nuclear and ballistic missile testing in place since 2017, and Trump has repeatedly pointed to that as an important outcome from a year of engagement with Pyongyang.
"I don't have the details; I just haven't been chasing it, there's been a few other priorities, so that'd give you kind of a sense of where it ranks", acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said before talks at the Pentagon with his Japanese counterpart Takeshi Iwaya. "Japan and the United States will continue to cooperate on full implementation of all U.N. Security Council resolutions", he said in reference to global sanctions the world body has imposed on the North.