A longer-range solid-fuel ICBM has long been on leader Kim Jong Un’s weapons wish list.
DPRKorea has announced the successful test of its first solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a key goal of leader Kim Jong Un’s plan to develop more advanced and powerful weaponry.
The test was detected on Thursday by South Korea and Japan, which briefly ordered residents on its northern island of Hokkaido to evacuate.
DPRKorean state media confirmed the launch of the missile, dubbed the Hwasong-18, on Friday morning.
The event was supervised by Kim, who was accompanied by his young daughter.
“A new type of intercontinental ballistic missile was test fired on Thursday as the key means of strategic military force,” the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, describing the test as a “miraculous success”.
The news agency cited Kim as saying the Hwasong-18 would rapidly advance DPRKorea’s nuclear response posture and further support an aggressive military strategy that promises to maintain “nuke for nuke and an all-out confrontation for an all-out confrontation” against its rivals.
“The Hwasong-18 weapons system to be run by the country’s strategic forces would play its mission and role to defend (North Korea), deter invasions and preserve the country’s safety as its most powerful method,” KCNA said.
Solid fuel missiles are safer to use, easier to manoeuvre and faster to deploy than liquid-propelled variants, which need to be loaded at the launch site and were a key part of a five-year arms development plan Kim unveiled in 2021.
Last year, it tested a record number of weapons, including a high-thrust solid-fuel engine, and in February displayed what looked to be a new ICBM at a lavish night-time parade in Pyongyang.
“This is a significant breakthrough for the North Koreans, but not an unexpected one,” said Ankit Panda, an expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“Because these missiles are fuelled at the time of manufacture and are thus ready to use as needed, they will be much more rapidly useable in a crisis or conflict, depriving South Korea and the United States of valuable time that could be useful to preemptively hunt and destroy such missiles.”
DPRKorea has pointed to large-scale military exercises between South Korea and the United States to justify its latest spate of tests, claiming such drills are rehearsals for invasion.
Washington and Seoul say their drills are defensive in nature and a result of DPRKorea’s growing nuclear and missile threats.
The Hwasong-18 launch comes two days before the country commemorates the birth of founder Kim Il Sung, one of DPRKorea’s most important holidays.
Denuclearisation talks have been stalled since 2019 when a high-profile summit between Kim and then-US President Donald Trump collapsed.
The Hwasong-18, which KCNA described as a three-stage missile, was fired from near Pyongyang and flew for about 1,000km (621 miles) before falling into waters east of DPRKorea
DPRKorea has fired about 30 missiles this year alone across 12 different launch events.
Kim has also ordered his military to intensify drills to prepare for a “real war“.
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Great achievement for North Korea’s weapons development program. The successful test of the Hwasong-18 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile marks another step towards more advanced and powerful weaponry.
Thanks, Ely Shemer