NKorea Announces Second Successful Hypersonic Missile Test: NPR

This photo provided by the North Korean government shows what it says was a test launch of a hypersonic missile in North Korea on Wednesday, January 5, 2022.


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This photo provided by the North Korean government shows what it says was a test launch of a hypersonic missile in North Korea on Wednesday, January 5, 2022.


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea on Thursday announced it had conducted a second successful test flight of a hypersonic missile, days after leader Kim Jong Un vowed to strengthen his military forces. his team despite the difficulties related to the pandemic.

Wednesday’s launch, North Korea’s first known weapons test in about two months, showed the country would push ahead with its plan to modernize its nuclear and missile arsenals rather than return to disarmament talks. except for early troops.

The North’s Korean Central News Agency said the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party expressed “great satisfaction” at the results of the missile test observed by top weapons officials.

Hypersonic weapons, flying at speeds in excess of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, can pose important challenges for missile defense systems because of their speed and maneuverability. they. It’s not clear if North Korea will be able to build such a high-tech missile anytime soon, but it was on a list of elaborate military assets Kim unveiled early last year, along with a multi-head missile. ballistics, reconnaissance satellites, solid-fueled long-range missiles and underwater-launched nuclear missiles.

Wednesday’s test was the second since North Korea first launched a hypersonic missile last September.

“Consecutive successes in test launches in the field of hypersonic missiles are strategically significant in that they accelerate the task of modernizing the strategic armed forces of the state,” a statement from KCNA said. know.

The word “strategic” refers to a missile being developed to deliver nuclear weapons.

KCNA said the missile made a 120-kilometer (75-mile) motion before hitting a target 700 kilometers (435 miles) away. It said the test “reconfirmed the missile’s flight control and stability, as well as verified its fuel compartment in winter weather conditions.”

Lee Choon Geun, an honorary researcher and expert, said: “Although North Korea appears to have made progress in developing a hypersonic missile, it still needs more test flights to determine if it’s not.” whether it meets its tactical objectives. fellow at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Policy.

A photo of the launch shows the tops of rockets launched in September and this week in different shapes. This suggests either North Korea is testing two warhead versions of a missile that is still under development, or it is actually developing two different hypersonic missiles, Lee said.

He said the missile’s reported horizontal movement would give the weapon greater maneuverability to evade enemy missile defense systems.

Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said North Korea is likely to proceed with its weapons-making plans unaffected by external factors such as the Olympics. Beijing congress in February, the South Korean presidential election in March and a possible shift in the Biden administration’s North Korea policy.

“With the US having decided to do a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, North Korea doesn’t have to worry about what China will think when it conducts weapons tests,” Kim said.

China is North Korea’s last major ally and benefactor of aid. Some experts had previously predicted that North Korea would not launch any provocations until after the Beijing Olympics were over.

Tae Yongho, a former North Korean diplomat who is now a lawmaker in South Korea, wrote on Facebook that Pyongyang is closing its border due to pandemic concerns. But he said Pyongyang was still working to perfect its missile technology to enhance its position in any future negotiations.

North Korea’s latest launch was first detected by neighboring countries.

The US military called it a ballistic missile launch that “highlights the destabilizing impact of (North Korea’s) illegal weapons program”, while South Korea and Japan expressed concern or sorry about the launch. For its part, China called for dialogue and said that “all relevant parties should keep the big picture in mind (and be) cautious with their words and actions.”

US-led diplomacy over North Korea’s nuclear program has remained stalled since 2019 due to a dispute over international sanctions against North Korea. The Biden administration has repeatedly called for the resumption of nuclear diplomacy “anywhere and at any time” without preconditions, but North Korea argues that the US must first withdraw its hostility to country before any negotiations can restart.

During last week’s plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, Kim Jong Un repeated his vow to expand the country’s military capabilities without making public any new stances on Washington and Seoul.

North Korea’s burgeoning nuclear arsenal is at the core of Mr Kim’s rule, and he calls it a “powerful treasured sword” that can deter potential US invasions. During his 10 years in office, he conducted an unusually large number of weapons tests to gain the ability to launch nuclear attacks on the continental United States. But his country’s economy has shrunk dramatically over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sanctions and mismanagement by his government.

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