North Korea tests new solid-fuel ICBM
North Korea has tested a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-18, to “radically promote” the country’s nuclear counterattack capability.
State media reports said North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un guided the test, and warned it would make enemies “experience a clearer security crisis, and constantly strike extreme uneasiness and horror into them by taking fatal and offensive counter-actions until they abandon their senseless thinking and reckless acts”.
North Korean state media outlet KCNA released photos of Kim watching the launch, accompanied by his wife, sister and daughter, and the missile covered in camouflage nets on a mobile launcher.
“The development of the new-type ICBM Hwasongpho-18 will extensively reform the strategic deterrence components of the DPRK, radically promote the effectiveness of its nuclear counterattack posture and bring about a change in the practicality of its offensive military strategy,” KCNA said.
The latest launch came days after Kim called for strengthening war deterrence in a “more practical and offensive” manner to counter what North Korea called moves of aggression by the United States.
North Korean officials said the missile, fired from near Pyongyang, flew about 1,000 km (620 miles) before landing in waters east of North Korea adding that the test posed no threats to its neighbouring countries.
A South Korean military official said the missile’s maximum altitude was lower than 6,000 km, the apogee of some of last year’s record-breaking tests.
North Korea has criticised recent U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises as escalating tensions, and has stepped up weapons tests in the past months.
South Korea’s defence ministry said North Korea was still developing the weapon, and that it needed more time and effort to master the technology.
Analysts said it is the North’s first use of solid propellants in an intermediate-range or intercontinental ballistic missile.
Developing a solid-fuel ICBM has long been seen as a key goal for North Korea, as it could help the North deploy missiles faster during a war.
Most of the country’s largest ballistic missiles use liquid fuel, which requires them to be loaded with propellant at their launch site – a time-consuming and dangerous process.