North Korea says it has tested hypersonic missile with ‘superior maneuverability’ | North Korea


North Korean leader Kim Jong-un personally oversaw the successful test of a hypersonic missile, state media reported on Wednesday, launching the second nuclear-armed nation of this type in less than a week.

Tuesday’s launch forced the United States to briefly halt some flights on its west coast, the Federal Aviation Administration said, and was more advanced in nature than last week’s test of a hypersonic missile, according to South Korean military chiefs.

Tuesday’s missile with a “hypersonic glider” hit “the set target in waters 1,000 km away,” the official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

North Korea says it has tested hypersonic missile with ‘superior maneuverability’ |  North Korea
Kim Jong-un sees the test launch through binoculars on these images from state media. Photo: KCNA / Reuters

Photographs posted on the website of Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Labor Party, showed Kim wearing a long black leather coat and using binoculars to see the missile from her mobile viewing platform.

“The superior maneuverability of the hypersonic glider was more strikingly confirmed through the final test fire,” the KCNA report said.

Lim Eul-chul, professor of North Korean studies at Kyungnam University in Seoul, said: “Kim Jong-un’s participation in the missile test indicates that the level of completion of the hypersonic missile has reached a satisfactory level.”

Other images in Rodong Sinmun showed the missile blast from land at dawn in a flame of fire and smoke, and Kim discussed nautical charts with uniformed officials.

It is the third reported North Korean test of a hypersonic sliding missile to date, after one in September 2021 and one last week as the country appears to be adding the sophisticated weapon to its arsenal.

The South Korean military said Tuesday’s launch had reached hypersonic speeds and showed clear signs of “progress” from last week’s test.

The KCNA report said the hypersonic glider “made a slip jump from a 600 km area before making a 240 km corkscrew.”

Hypersonic missiles travel at speeds of Mach 5 and higher and can maneuver in mid-flight, making them harder to track and intercept.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) talks to military officials during an observation of what state media are saying, a hypersonic missile test fire
The test launch is believed to have been more advanced than last week. Photo: KCNA VIA KNS / AFP / Getty Images

Russia, the United States and China have all said they have successfully tested hypersonic sliding vehicles, with Russia generally seen as the world leader in technology so far.

In the decade since Kim took power, North Korea has seen rapid advances in its military technology at the expense of international sanctions. Hypersonic missiles were listed among the “top-priority” tasks for strategic weapons in its five-year plan, and it announced its first test – of Hwasong-8 – in September last year.

The Tuesday test came when the UN Security Council met in New York to discuss Pyongyang’s weapons programs. US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the launch “violates several UN Security Council resolutions”.

The hypersonic tests come as North Korea has refused to respond to US calls for talks.

At a key meeting of North Korea’s ruling party last month, Kim promised to continue building the country’s defense capabilities without mentioning the United States.

The dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang has still stalled and the country is under several sets of international sanctions due to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The poor nation has also been under a rigid self-imposed coronavirus blockade that has hammered its economy.

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