North Korea says missile launched Wednesday was hypersonic

SEOUL, Jan. 5 (UPI) — North Korea successfully launched a hypersonic missile and hit a target more than 400 miles away, state-run media said on Thursday, a test that officials said was of “strategic significance” in developing the nuclear-armed country’s weapons program.

The missile, fired Wednesday morning from northern Jagang Province, according to the South Korean military, was Pyongyang’s second launch of a hypersonic weapon in just over three months.


A “hypersonic gliding warhead” detached from its rocket booster, “made a 120 km [75-mile] lateral movement” and “precisely hit a set target 700km [435 miles] away,” state-run Korea Central News Agency reported.

“The successive successes in the test launches in the hypersonic missile sector have strategic significance in that they hasten a task for modernizing strategic armed force of the state,” the KCNA report said.

Hypersonic missiles are highly maneuverable weapons that can travel at five times the speed of sound, or roughly 3,800 miles per hour. They have become the focus of a global arms race also involving China, Russia and the United States.

The U.S. military said the launch “highlights the destabilizing impact of [North Korea’s] illicit weapons program,” and Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the weapons test during a call Wednesday with his Japanese counterpart, Hayashi Yoshimasa.


South Korea’s National Security Council convened an emergency meeting Wednesday and “emphasized the importance of resuming dialogue with North Korea in order to resolve the current strained and tense state of inter-Korean relations.”

The launch came just days after South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that he would push for an end-of-war declaration with North Korea before the end of his term in May. The 1950-53 Korean War stopped with an armistice, but no peace treaty was signed, leaving the two countries technically at war.

Pyongyang continues to show little interest in engaging diplomatically with Seoul or Washington, however. Nuclear negotiations with the United States have been at a standstill for almost three years, since a February 2019 summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and then-U.S. President Donald Trump ended without an agreement.

Kim focused primarily on domestic issues during a year-end speech last week, as North Korea is facing a severe economic crisis and food shortages, but he did emphasize the need to build up the country’s military strength.

“The military environment of the Korean Peninsula and the trend of the international situation getting instable day after day demand that bolstering the state defense capability be further powerfully propelled without a moment’s delay,” Kim said during a meeting of the ruling Workers Party, according to KCNA.



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