Pyongyang said its latest test featured a solid-fuel missile with greater “military utility”
North Korea has claimed that its latest missile test verified the effectiveness of a newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that will greatly enhance its “nuclear counterattack posture” and help strike “extreme uneasiness and horror” in its enemies.
The new solid-fuel “Hwasong-18” was successfully test-launched on Thursday, with all three stages safely landing in waters off the country’s eastern coast, North Korea’s government said on Friday in a statement through state-run broadcaster Voice of Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “guided” the launch on site and praised the new ICBM as further proof of the country’s “ever-increasing defense technological might.”
Thursday’s test initially triggered air raid warnings in Japan, until authorities confirmed that the missile posed no threat to the northern island of Hokkaido. Pyongyang said the ICBM’s first stage was set on a standard trajectory, while the second and third stages flew in a high-angle mode “in consideration of the safety of the neighboring countries.”
“The test-firing made it possible to have the guarantee and confidence that all the elements of the new-type strategic weapon system have correctly reached the requirements of the designs and the new-type ICBM is a powerful strategic offensive means of greater military utility,” the statement said. Kim added that the Hwasong-18 will strengthen North Korea’s strategic arsenal, enabling the country to respond to “nukes with nukes” and to “total confrontation with total confrontation.”
Pyongyang has conducted nine missile tests this year amid escalating tensions with South Korea. Kim’s government warned last week that Seoul’s joint military exercises with US forces had pushed the peninsula to the “brink of a nuclear war.” The two Koreas technically remain at war, having ended their 1950-1953 conflict with an armistice, rather than a peace treaty.
Kim said his government will force North Korea’s enemies to “clearly understand the crisis of security,” making them regret “their wrong choice in despair.”
As a solid-fuel ICBM, the Hwasong-18 can be prepared for launch more quickly than a liquid-fuel missile, making it more difficult to detect and intercept. Pyongyang didn’t disclose the new missile’s range. The country’s previous-generation ICBM, the Hwasong-17, was billed as a “monster missile” that reportedly could travel as far as 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles). Pyongyang is about 11,000 kilometers away from Washington.