North Korea says it tested hypersonic missile

Agence France-Presse
North Korea says it tested hypersonic missile
This picture taken on September 28, 2021 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 29 shows the Academy of Defence Science of the DPRK test-firing a hypersonic missile Hwasong-8 newly developed by it in Toyang-ri, Ryongrim County of Jagang Province, North Korea. North Korea has successfully tested a new hypersonic gliding missile, state media reported Wednesday, in what would be the nuclear-armed nation's latest advance in weapons technology. Tuesday's launch was of "great strategic significance", the official Korean Central News Agency said, as the North seeks to increase its defence capabilities a "thousand-fold".

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has successfully tested a new hypersonic gliding missile, state media reported Wednesday, in what would be the nuclear-armed nation's latest advance in weapons technology.

Tuesday's launch was of "great strategic significance", the official Korean Central News Agency said, as the North seeks to increase its defence capabilities a "thousand-fold".

Hypersonic missiles move far faster and are more agile than ordinary ones, making them much harder for missile defence systems — on which the US is spending billions — to intercept.

The launch from Jagang province "confirmed the navigational control and stability of the missile", along with its "guiding manoeuvrability and the gliding flight characteristics of the detached hypersonic gliding warhead" and the engine, according to KCNA.

"The test results proved that all the technical specifications met the design requirements", it added.

The launch of the missile, which it identified as the Hwasong-8, was watched by top official Pak Jong Chon, it said, making no mention of leader Kim Jong Un.

The official Rodong Sinmun newspaper carried a picture of the weapon — with a set of guidance fins at the base of its nose cone — ascending into the morning sky.

The South's military had announced the launch shortly after it happened on Tuesday, but it did not officially reveal the missile's maximum altitude and flight distance afterwards, information that it normally makes available within around an hour.

South Korean media reports cited unidentified sources saying the projectile had "different flight features" from previous launches and President Moon Jae-in called for "comprehensive analysis" of the event.

Both Koreas are building up their weapons capabilities in what could become an arms race on the divided peninsula, with ramifications for neighbouring Japan and China and the wider region.

The nuclear-armed North, which invaded the South in 1950, is under multiple international sanctions over its banned nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes, and earlier this month said it had tested a long-range cruise missile.

Developing the hypersonic missile was one of five "top priority" tasks in the five-year plan for strategic weapons, KCNA said.

Submarine launch

Seoul is also spending billions on military development and this month successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) for the first time, making it one of a handful of nations with the advanced technology.

On Tuesday, it held a ceremony to launch its third SLBM submarine.

Washington and Seoul are security allies and the United States stations around 28,500 troops in the South to protect it from its neighbour.

Talks between Pyongyang and Washington have been largely at a standstill since a 2019 summit in Hanoi between leader Kim and then-president Donald Trump collapsed over sanctions relief and what North Korea would be willing to give up in return.

Pyongyang has since then repeatedly excoriated the South and its president Moon, and blown up a liaison office on its side of the border that Seoul had built.

The administration of President Joe Biden — which condemned Tuesday's launch as a sanctions violation and a threat to the international community — has repeatedly said that it is willing to meet North Korean officials anywhere, at any time, without preconditions, in its efforts to seek denuclearisation.

But the North has not shown any willingness to give up its arsenal, which it says it needs to defend itself against a US invasion.

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 5, 2023 - 1:39pm

South Korean officials were briefing the White House Thursday on the outcome of their pathfinding meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Seoul has already publicized that North Korea offered talks with the United States on denuclearization and normalizing ties, a potential diplomatic opening after a year of escalating tensions over the North's nuclear and missile tests. The rival Koreas also agreed to hold a leadership summit in late April.

Top Trump administration officials were getting a chance to hear firsthand from South Korean national security director, Chung Eui-yong, who led the delegation that went to Pyongyang. — Associated Press

October 5, 2023 - 1:39pm

South Korea's defense ministry says Thursday it was "closely monitoring" a North Korean nuclear reactor site after local media reported its operations had been temporarily suspended, potentially to extract weapons-grade plutonium.

The Donga Ilbo newspaper reports earlier in the day that intelligence sources in Seoul and Washington had detected signs the five-megawatt reactor in Yongbyon had temporarily stopped operations late last month.

The suspension could be an indication that spent fuel rods are being reprocessed to extract plutonium for use in nuclear weapons, the report cited a government source as saying. — AFP

September 28, 2023 - 8:53am

State media reports that North Korea's rubber-stamp legislature has enshrined the country's status as a nuclear weapons power in the constitution.

"The DPRK's nuclear force-building policy has been made permanent as the basic law of the state, which no one is allowed to flout with anything," leader Kim Jong Un said at a meeting of the State People's Assembly that was held Tuesday and Wednesday, the KCNA news agency says. 

DPRK is the acronym for the country's formal name. — AFP

September 8, 2023 - 11:15am

State news agency KCNA reports that North Korea announced it had built a "tactical nuclear attack submarine" as part of its effort to strengthen its naval force.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presided over the unveiling ceremony on Wednesday, saying the new sub was part of a "push forward with the nuclear weaponization of the Navy in the future", according to KCNA.

The launching of submarine No. 841, named the Hero Kim Kun Ok, "heralded the beginning of a new chapter for bolstering up the naval force of the DPRK", the KCNA report said, referring to the country by the abbreviation of its formal name. — AFP

September 3, 2023 - 10:46am

State-controlled media reports Sunday that North Korea staged a "simulated tactical nuclear attack" drill at the weekend with mock atomic warheads attached to two long-range cruise missiles that were test-fired into the ocean.

The Korean Central News Agency says the operation early Saturday was a "counteraction drill" in response to joint military activity by US and South Korean forces that KCNA said has escalated tensions in the region.

"A firing drill for simulated tactical nuclear attack was conducted at dawn of September 2 to warn the enemies of the actual nuclear war danger," KCNA reports. — AFP

September 2, 2023 - 1:19pm

Seoul's military says North Korea fired multiple cruise missiles off its west coast on Saturday, the latest in a string of recent Pyongyang military actions. 

The launches come three days after the North launched a pair of short-range ballistic missiles as part of a "tactical nuclear strike drill" prompted by the annual US-South Korean Ulchi Freedom Shield military exercises, which always infuriate the reclusive regime.   

Pyongyang views such the drills as a rehearsal for invasion while the two allies say they are defensive in nature. — AFP

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