North Korea claims successful test of hypersonic missile

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea said on Wednesday that leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a successful test flight of a hypersonic missile he said would greatly increase the nuclear “war deterrence capability”. people of this country.

State media reported a day after the militaries of the United States, South Korea and Japan said they had detected North Korea firing a ballistic missile suspected to have hit its eastern seaboard.

North Korea’s official news agency said Tuesday’s launch involved a supersonic flying vehicle, which, after ejecting from a booster rocket, demonstrated a “gliding journey” and “corkscrew maneuvers”. ” before hitting a target at sea 1,000 km (621 mi) away. Photos released by the agency show a rocket with a pointed cone payload flying into the sky while leaving an orange trail of fire, and Kim watching from a small cabin with top officials, including and Kim Yo Jong’s younger sister.

The launch was North Korea’s second test of a purpose-built hypersonic missile in a week, a weapon the country first tested in September, as Kim Jong Un continued his resolute effort to expand his capabilities. its nuclear weapons capabilities in the face of pandemic-related international sanctions. difficulties and deadlock in diplomacy with the United States.

North Korea has ramped up testing since last fall, showing a variety of missiles and delivery systems that appear to be designed to overwhelm missile defenses in the region. Experts say Mr Kim is trying to put more pressure on rivals Washington and Seoul to accept it as a nuclear power in the hope of winning a solution from economic sanctions.

This is the first time since March 2020, North Korean state media reported that Kim attended a missile test.

KCNA said Mr Kim praised military scientists and officials involved in the development of the hypersonic missile system, which he described as the most important part of a new five-year plan announced earlier this year. 2021 aims to build up North Korea’s military force.

North Korea has described the new missile as part of a “strategic” weapon, implying that the system is being developed to deliver nuclear weapons.

“The superior maneuverability of the hypersonic glide vehicle was more clearly verified during the final test-fire,” KCNA said. Kim stressed the need to accelerate the expansion of the “strategic military muscle both qualitatively and quantitatively, and further modernize the army” and pledged to further succeed in “growing significantly increase the country’s war deterrence capabilities.”

Hypersonic weapons, which fly at speeds in excess of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, can pose an important challenge to missile defense systems because of their speed and maneuverability. . Such weapons are on the wish list of complex military assets Kim unveiled last year along with multi-warhead missiles, spy satellites, long-range solid-fuel missiles and rockets. Submarine-launched nuclear weapons.

Experts say North Korea needs more successful tests and longer ranges that it will take years before it has a reliable hypersonic system.

“North Korea seems to believe that hypersonic weapons are a game-changer and provide an entrance to the nuclear club as the US, Russia and China race to build them,” said Duyeon Kim, senior analyst at North Korea. senior at Washington’s Center for a New American Security.

She said North Korea’s recent progress in its missile program shows the aim of ensuring “a nuclear second strike capability, making their missiles more modern and survivable, reassure the Korean people of their military might and believable entry into the nuclear club.”

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington condemns North Korea’s latest launch, which violates multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, and calls on Pyongyang to engage in “sustainable dialogue.” and substantive”.

The US Indo-Pacific Command said the launch highlighted the “destabilizing impact of (North Korea’s) illegal weapons program” but did not pose an immediate threat to the US military. with the territory of the United States or its allies.

The FAA acknowledged the “stop on the ground” in a tweet, without giving a reason why it ordered.

The FAA said: “The entire operation resumed in less than 15 minutes. “The FAA regularly takes precautions. We are looking at the process around this ground stop as we did after all such events. “

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the North’s missile flew 700 kilometers (434 miles) with a top speed of about Mach 10 before landing in waters off North Korea’s east coast.

South Korea’s defense ministry denied North Korea’s previous test on January 5, stressing that the North had exaggerated its capabilities after testing a conventional ballistic missile. After Tuesday’s launch, the Joint Chiefs of Staff acknowledged that North Korea had demonstrated a more advanced capability than its previous test.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi described the new missile as hypersonic and said North Korea’s efforts to enhance its missile capabilities pose a serious threat to Japan. He said Japan would consider all options, including the possibility of pursuing a pre-emptive strike capability, to strengthen its defense capabilities.

Kim Jong Un enters the new year, renewing his vow to strengthen his military forces, even as the country grapples with difficulties related to the pandemic that has put additional strain on his economy, which is crippled by US-led sanctions over its nuclear program.

Economic setbacks have kept Kim from showing much of his diplomacy with former US President Donald Trump, which was derailed after a second meeting in 2019 when the Americans rejected North Korea’s demand for a nuclear deal. major sanctions relief in exchange for giving up part of the country’s nuclear capabilities.

The Biden administration, whose policies reflect a broader shift in US focus from fighting terrorism and so-called rogue states like North Korea and Iran to confronting China, said it ready to resume negotiations with North Korea at any time without preconditions.

But North Korea has so far rejected the idea of ​​open talks, saying the US must first withdraw its “hostile policy”, a term Pyongyang mainly uses to describe sanctions and protests. joint exercises between the US and South Korea.


AP writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this story.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/north-korea-claims-successful-test-hypersonic-missile-82210652 North Korea claims successful test of hypersonic missile

Emma Bowman

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