North Korea successfully tests a hypersonic missile

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally supervised the successful test of a hypersonic missile, the second of its kind carried out by Pyongyang in less than a week. This is reported by the North Korean state media. The missile carrying a “hypersonic gliding warhead” hit a “target at sea 1,000 km away,” said the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), adding that the test confirmed “the excellent maneuverability of the unit from hypersonic combat ». Photos uploaded to Rodong Sinmun’s website, the Official Gazette of the ruling Workers’ Party, show the missile being launched at dawn as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stares at men in military uniforms.

The South Korean defense estimated the strike reached hypersonic speed and clearly showed progress from last week’s. According to the KCNA report, the hypersonic vehicle “made a glide flight from an area of ​​600 km before performing a rotation flight for 240 km”. Hypersonic missiles typically reach Mach 5, five times the speed of sound, or even more. They are faster and more maneuverable than standard missiles, which makes them more difficult for defense systems, on which the United States spends billions of dollars, to intercept. Other videos from Rodong Sinmun show the missile taking off at dawn in a cloud of fire and Kim talking to uniformed officers. This is North Korea’s third test of a hypersonic hover missile, after those in September and last week. Since Kim Jong Un came to power ten years ago, North Korea has rapidly made strides on the military technology front. Hypersonic missiles are among the “top priorities” of North Korea’s five-year plan, state media reported last year. “The presence of Kim Jong Un on trial suggests that the hypersonic missile has reached a satisfactory level of completion,” said Lim Eul-chul, a professor of North Korean studies at Kyungnam University in Seoul.

Russia, the United States and China also said they have successfully tested hypersonic glider vehicles, a technology in which Russia is widely regarded as the world leader. But analysts questioned North Korea’s progress. “It is more correct to describe it as a reentry vehicle” than as a hypersonic weapon, said Ankit Panda of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “The so-called hypersonic weapon is not technologically ready to be deployed” from North Korea, echoed Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, while acknowledging that “Pyongyang’s ability to threaten its neighbors continues to to grow up”. The missile was fired during a closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Pyongyang’s weapons programs. US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the launch “violates several UN Security Council resolutions.”

The EU has “condemned” the launch of missiles which “threaten international peace and security and go against international efforts to resume dialogue”. Brussels urged the Pyongyang regime to “fulfill its obligations” with respect to the resolutions of the UN Security Council and “refrain from all actions” that jeopardize the path of “diplomacy and dialogue.” As long as North Korea fails to comply with its obligations, the EU will continue to rigorously apply sanctions, encouraging the international community to do the same, ”he assured.

The launch comes as Pyongyang refuses to respond to US requests for talks. The dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington remains at a standstill following the failure in 2019 of the talks between Kim Jong Un and the then president of the United States, Donald Trump. The government of current President Joe Biden has repeatedly shown its willingness to meet North Korean envoys and aim for denuclearization, but Pyongyang has rejected the offer, accusing the United States of pursuing a “hostile” policy. North Korea faces international sanctions for its weapons programs. Pressure on its struggling economy has been accentuated by tight border closures to stem the coronavirus pandemic

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