North Korea says it has successfully test-fired a hypersonic missile, in the first such launch of the year, as the country pursues new military capabilities.
The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Thursday that the projectile, which was fired from the east coast of North Korea and landed in the East Sea on Wednesday, was a hypersonic missile and that it hit its target.
The “hypersonic gliding warhead” detached from its rocket booster after launch and maneuvered 120 km (75 miles) laterally before it “precisely hit” a target 700 km (430 miles) away, the report said.
The test also confirmed the missile’s ability to operate in the winter and to combine “multi-step glide jump flight and strong lateral maneuvering,” it added.
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 said.
According to the report, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un did not attend the launch.
The missile test on Wednesday was first reported by South Korea and Japan, with both describing it as apparently of a ballistic missile.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said the missile flew about 500 km before landing in waters outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
South Korea’s National Security Council also expressed concern over the launch as it convened an emergency meeting after the test launch, calling on Pyongyang to return to talks on dismantling its nuclear weapons.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry also urged North Korea to respond to its efforts to reach peace and cooperation through dialog.
The US State Department said the missile test violated multiple UN Security Council resolutions and posed a threat to North Korea’s neighbors and the international community.
The North successfully launched a new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in October, which according to Pyongyang had “lots of advanced control guidance technologies.”
Also in September, the country launched a newly-developed hypersonic missile, dubbed Hwasong-8, in a move it said was strategically significant in the development of the domestic nuclear weapons technology.
South Korea also test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile of its own for the first time in September.
Pyongyang is under harsh UN sanctions for its missile and nuclear activities.
The two Koreas are still technically at war as a 1950-53 war between them ended in a truce and not a peace treaty.
Communication between the two neighbors has largely been cut since a second US-North Korea summit collapsed in Hanoi in February 2019.
The administration of President Joe Biden has repeatedly said it is willing to meet North Korean officials anywhere 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 holds Washington’s duplicity responsible for stalled talks.