North Korea says it has successfully test-fired a newly-developed hypersonic missile, in a move it said is strategically significant in the development of the domestic nuclear weapons technology.
Pyongyang confirmed that the missile, dubbed the Hwasong-8, was launched from Jagang province early Tuesday morning, according to the North’s official news agency KCNA,
The news agency published a photo that showed a missile mounted with a finned, cone-shaped payload soaring into the air amid bright orange flames.
The launch was of "great strategic significance," it said. “In the first test-launch, national defense scientists confirmed the navigational control and stability of the missile.”
The report said that the missile performed to its technical specifications "including the guiding maneuverability and the gliding flight characteristics of the detached hypersonic gliding warhead."
Developing the hypersonic missile was one of five "top priority" tasks in the five-year plan for strategic weapons, KCNA said.
Back in January, the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, declared that his country was working to develop hypersonic warheads, a nuclear-powered submarine, military reconnaissance satellites and solid-fuel ICBMs.
The launch was watched by top official Pak Jong-chon, said KCNA, without mentioning whether Kim had also inspected it.
Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff claimed on Wednesday that the South Korean and US militaries were "capable of detecting and intercepting it.’
"Based on an assessment of its characteristics such as speed, it is at an initial phase of development and will take a considerable time to be deployed," they said in a statement.
The South expressed regret over the test-launch and Washington described it as a sanctions' violation and a threat to the international community.
The test, Pyongyang’s third round of launches this month, came less than hour before the country’s envoy to the United Nations addressed the UN General Assembly in New York.
Kim Song told the UNGA that, “Nobody can deny the right to self-defense for the DPRK,” calling on the United States to give up its "hostile policy" towards Pyongyang.
Pyongyang will continue “to develop, test, manufacture and possess the weapon systems equivalent to the ones which are possessed or being developed by them," Kim said, referring to the United States and South Korea.
South launches 3rd SLBM
South Korea recently test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) for the first time.
Seoul launched its third SLBM during a ceremony on Tuesday, said the South’s Yonhap news agency.
It was the third and the final of three Changbogo-III Batch-I submarines South Korea has been building with its own technologies, it said.
Earlier this month, a North Korean military think tank dismissed Seoul’s SLBM test as rudimentary, but warned that the development of such weapons by Seoul could rekindle cross-border tension.
The two Koreas are still technically at war as the 1950-53 war between them ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
Communications between the two Koreas have largely been cut in the aftermath of a second US-North Korea summit in Hanoi in February 2019.
The summit between Kim and then-US president Donald Trump collapsed after they were ultimately unable to reach an agreement.
The administration of President Joe Biden has repeatedly said it is willing to meet North Korean officials anywhere, at any time, without preconditions, in its efforts to resume denuclearization talks.
Pyongyang, however, accuses the United States of applying double standards in its approaches to the two Koreas' military activities and held Washington’s duplicity responsible for stalled nuclear talks.