NKorea claims to successfully test hypersonic missiles for the second time

SEOUL, South Korea – Days after leader Kim Jong Un vowed to strengthen his army despite the difficulties associated with the pandemic, North Korea claimed on Thursday that it had successfully conducted a second test flight of a hypersonic missile.

Wednesday’s launch was North Korea’s first known weapon test in about two months, indicating that the country will advance its plan to modernize its nuclear and missile arsenal, rather than resuming disarmament negotiations soon.

The official North Korean Central News Agency said that the ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee expressed “very satisfied” with the results of the missile test, and major weapons officials saw the results.

The flight speed of hypersonic weapons exceeds Mach 5, which is five times the speed of sound. Due to their speed and maneuverability, they may pose a major challenge to missile defense systems. It is not clear whether and how long North Korea will be able to manufacture such high-tech missiles, but Kim Jong-un disclosed the cutting-edge military assets on his wish list at the beginning of last year, in addition to multi-warhead missiles, spy satellites, solid-fuel long-range missiles and water. Nuclear missiles under launch.

Wednesday’s test is the second such test since North Korea first launched a hypersonic missile in September last year.

“The continuous success of test launches in the field of hypersonic missiles is of strategic significance because they have accelerated the task of modernizing the country’s strategic armed forces,” a KCNA news source said.

The term “strategy” means that missiles are being developed to carry nuclear weapons.

KCNA stated that the missile moved 120 kilometers (75 miles) laterally and then hit a target 700 kilometers (435 miles) away. It said that the test reconfirmed the missile’s flight control and stability and verified its fuel tank in winter weather conditions.

Honorary research expert Li Chungen said that although North Korea seems to have made progress in developing hypersonic missiles, it still needs more test flights to determine whether it meets its tactical goals or how advanced the hypersonic weapons it can develop. Researcher of Korea Science and Technology Policy Research Institute.

A launch photo shows that the shape of the upper part of the missile launched in September and this week is different. Lee said this shows that North Korea is testing two versions of warheads for missiles that are still under development, or is actually developing two different types of hypersonic missiles.

He said that the reported lateral movement of the missile will provide the weapon with greater mobility to evade enemy missile defense systems.

Kim Dong-ok, a professor at the Seoul University of Korean Studies, said that North Korea may continue to advance its arms building plan without being affected by external factors such as the Beijing Olympics in February and the South Korean presidential election. In March, the North Korean policy of the Biden administration may change.

“Given that the United States has decided to diplomatically boycott the Beijing Olympics, North Korea does not have to worry about what China will think when it conducts weapons tests,” Kim said.

China is the last major ally and aider of North Korea. Some experts predicted earlier that North Korea would not initiate any provocations before the end of the Beijing Olympics.

Tae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat who is currently a South Korean parliamentarian, wrote on Facebook that Pyongyang is closing its border due to fears of a pandemic. But he said that Pyongyang is still working to improve its missile technology to improve its position in any future negotiations.

North Korea’s latest launch was first discovered by its neighbors.

The US military called this a ballistic missile launch, “highlighting the destabilizing impact of (North Korea’s) illegal weapons program,” while South Korea and Japan expressed concern or regret about the launch. The Chinese side called for dialogue and stated that “all parties concerned should focus on the overall situation (and) be cautious in their words and deeds.”

The UN diplomat said that the five countries of the UN Security Council-the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland and Albania-asked the United Nations’ most powerful agency to hold consultations on the issue of North Korea’s launch of a hypersonic missile on Monday, and requested anonymity. Announcement.

Due to disputes over international sanctions against North Korea, the US-led diplomacy of North Korea’s nuclear program has been at a standstill since 2019. The Biden administration has repeatedly called for unconditional resumption of nuclear diplomacy “anytime, anywhere,” but North Korea argues that the United States must first eliminate its hostility before resuming any negotiations.

At the plenary meeting of the ruling Labor Party Central Committee held last week, Kim Jong-un reiterated his pledge to expand his country’s military capabilities, but did not publicly put forward any new positions on Washington and Seoul.

North Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal is at the core of Kim Jong-un’s rule, and he called it “a powerful sword” to thwart potential U.S. aggression. During his 10-year rule, he conducted an unusually large number of weapons tests to obtain the ability to launch nuclear strikes on the United States. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sanctions, and his government’s own mismanagement, his country’s economy has suffered a severe decline in the past two years.