North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un personally oversaw the test firing of the country’s “new type” of intercontinental ballistic missile, state media reported on Friday.
“The test launch of a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasongpho-17 from the DVK’s strategic forces was carried out on March 24 … under the direct leadership of Kim Jong Un,” KCNA said.
The Hwasong-17 is a giant ICBM that was first unveiled in October 2020 and has been called a “monster missile” by analysts. It has never been successfully tested before.
“The missile, which was launched at Pyongyang International Airport, traveled to a maximum altitude of 6,248.5 km and flew a distance of 1,090 km for 4,052 s before accurately hitting the predetermined area in open waters.” in the Sea of Japan, KCNA said.
South Korea’s military has estimated the range of Thursday’s launch to be 6,200 kilometers (3,800 miles) – much longer than the last ICBM North Korea tested in October 2017.
The Thursday launch, one of nearly a dozen North Korean weapons tests so far this year, marked a dramatic return to long-range testing by the nuclear-weapon country.
This is probably North Korea’s largest ICBM test ever, and the first time they have tested Kim’s most powerful missiles since 2017.
Kim said the new weapon would “credibly carry out its mission and duty as a powerful nuclear war deterrent,” according to KCNA.
He “proudly noted that the emergence of the new strategic weapon of the DVK will once again make the whole world clearly aware of the power of our strategic armed forces,” KCNA reported.
Long-range and nuclear tests have been interrupted since Kim met then-US President Donald Trump for an attack on doomed diplomacy, which collapsed in 2019.
But North Korea earlier this year threatened to drop a self-imposed moratorium on long-distance and nuclear tests, and the U.S. and South Korea warned this month that Pyongyang was preparing to launch a full-scale ICBM.
North Korea has long coveted an ICBM capable of carrying multiple warheads and, say Seoul and Washington, has tested the Hwasong-17 under cover of developing a “reconnaissance satellite”.
Last week, a test of the Hwasong-17 probably ended in failure and exploded in the air over the capital shortly after its launch.
The North has conducted three ICBM tests, the most recent in November 2017, of a Hwasong-15 – which is considered powerful enough to reach the continental United States.
Seoul, Tokyo and Washington condemned the launch on Thursday, which will increase tensions on the peninsula amid a presidential transition in South Korea.
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