North Korea claims second successful test of “hypersonic” missile

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North Korea fired a “hypersonic missile” this week that managed to hit a target, state news agency KCNA reported on Thursday, its second such test as the country pursues new military capabilities in the country. mid-stalled denuclearization talks.

Wednesday’s launch was the first by North Korea since October and was detected by several military personnel in the region, drawing criticism from the governments of the United States, South Korea and Japan.

North Korea first tested a hypersonic missile in September, joining a race led by major military powers to deploy the advanced weapons system.

Hypersonic weapons typically fly to targets at lower altitudes than ballistic missiles and can reach more than five times the speed of sound, or about 6,200 km / h (3,850 mph).

Despite their name, analysts say the main characteristic of hypersonic weapons is not speed – which can sometimes be equal to or exceeded by traditional ballistic missile warheads – but their maneuverability.

In Wednesday’s test, the “hypersonic planing warhead” detached from its rocket thruster and maneuvered 120 km (75 miles) sideways before “precisely hitting” a target 700 km (430 miles) away. , KCNA reported.

The missile has demonstrated its ability to combine “multi-stage gliding and strong lateral maneuvers,” KCNA said.

The test also confirmed components such as flight control and its ability to operate in winter, KCNA added.

“The successive successes of test launches in the hypersonic missile sector are of strategic importance as they accelerate a task of modernizing the state’s strategic armed forces,” the KCNA report said.

Although it has not tested nuclear bombs or long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) since 2017, in recent years North Korea has developed and launched a range of more maneuverable missiles and warheads likely aimed at overcome missile defenses like those used by South Korea and the United States, analysts say.

“My impression is that the North Koreans have identified hypersonic gliders as a potentially useful qualitative means to deal with missile defense,” said Ankit Panda, senior researcher at the United States-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

New missile

Hypersonic weapons are considered the next generation of weapons that aim to deprive opponents of traditional reaction time and defeat mechanisms.

Last month, the United States completed construction of a massive $ 1.5 billion long-range radar for an interior missile defense system in Alaska that it claims can track ballistic missiles as well as weapons. hypersonic from countries like North Korea.

Photos of the missile used in Wednesday’s test show what analysts said was a liquid-fueled ballistic missile with a conically shaped maneuverable re-entry vehicle (MaRV) taking off from a wheeled launcher in a cloud of flames and smoke.

It is a different version of the weapon tested last year and was first unveiled at a defense exhibition in Pyongyang in October, Panda said.

“They probably have at least two separate development programs in place,” he added. “One of them was the Hwasong-8, which was tested in September. This missile, which shares some common characteristics with the Hwasong-8, is another.”

In an appeal with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the North Korean missile launch and discussed cooperation to achieve complete denuclearization and lasting peace. on the Korean Peninsula, the US State Department said in a statement.

“We take any new capability seriously and, as we have said, we condemn the continuation of (North Korea’s) ballistic missile testing, which is destabilizing the region and the international community,” a door said later. – speech of the State Department.

Talks to persuade North Korea to surrender its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile arsenal have stalled since a failed series of summits between leader Kim Jong Un and then US President Donald Trump.

The administration of US President Joe Biden has said it is ready to speak to North Korea, but Pyongyang said the US overtures were empty rhetoric without more substantial changes to “hostile policies” such as military exercises and punishments.

The latest test came just hours before South Korean President Moon Jae-in attends a groundbreaking ceremony for a railway line that he hopes will eventually connect the divided Korean peninsula. , casting doubts on his hopes of an eleventh-hour diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea before his five-year term ends in May.

“We hope that all parties (…) will speak and act with caution, persist in the right direction of dialogue and consultation, and work together to advance the political settlement of the peninsular issue,” said the spokesperson. Chinese Foreign Ministry Wang Wenbin spoke at a daily press briefing. Thursday.


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