Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

North Korea says hypersonic missile for first test flight

This photo provided by the North Korean government shows what North Korea calls a new hypersonic missile launched from Toyang-ri, Ryongrim County, Jagang Province, North Korea on Tuesday, September 28, 2021. North Korea on Wednesday, September 29, 2021 said it was successfully testing the new hypersonic missile it believed was being developed to be nuclear capable while continuing to build on its military capabilities while subduing Washington and Seoul over the lengthy negotiations on their nuclear weapons Pressure sets. Independent journalists were not granted access to cover the event depicted in this picture distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. According to the source, the Korean watermark on the picture reads: “KCNA”, which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency / Korea News Service via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea announced on Wednesday that it had successfully tested a new hypersonic missile believed to be developed as nuclear capable while it continues to build its military capabilities and shut down Washington and Seoul over protracted negotiations on its nuclear weapons Pressure sets.

The missile test early Tuesday marked North Korea’s third round of launch of the month and took place just before North Korea’s UN envoy accused the United States of hostility and called on the Biden government to conduct joint military exercises with South Korea and deploy strategic resources in the region.

A photo published in North Korea’s state media showed a missile with a cone-shaped, ribbed payload exploding into the air amid bright orange flames. Korea’s official Central News Agency said the missile had met key technical requirements during its first flight test, including launch stability and the maneuverability and flight characteristics of the “detached hypersonic floating warhead.”

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff rated the missile as in an early stage of development and said it would take North Korea “significant time” to deploy it operationally.

The northern announcement came a day after the South Korean and Japanese military announced that North Korea had fired a missile into its eastern sea. The US Indo-Pacific Command said the launch highlighted “the destabilizing effects of (North Korea’s) illegal weapons program”.

In a separate report, KCNA said the North’s stamp parliament opened a session on Tuesday, discussing domestic issues such as economic policy and youth education, and continuing the meetings. Some experts speculate that the North might use the meeting to address the blockade on nuclear diplomacy, but the state media report made no comment on Washington and Seoul.

At a meeting of the ruling party in January, leader Kim Jong Un put hypersonic glide vehicles, which are launched from a missile before sliding into a target, on a wish list of sophisticated military installations. KCNA described the new missile as an important addition to the country’s “strategic” weapons, suggesting that the system will be developed to deliver nuclear weapons.

The report also said the test confirmed the stability of the missile’s propellant capsule, suggesting technology to add liquid fuel beforehand and keep it ready for launch for years. And a North Korean official said the north plans to expand the system to all of its liquid-fuel missiles.

Liquid-propellant missiles are more vulnerable than solid-propellant missiles because they must be separately refueled and trucked to launch sites that can be seen by enemy satellites or other military means.

Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said North Korea is trying to improve the mobility of these weapons.

North Korea made offers last week to improve relations with South Korea under certain conditions and apparently reverted to its pattern of mixing arms demonstrations with peace offers to wrest outside concessions.

The negotiations on its nuclear program have been stuck since February 2019. North Korea has called for US-led sanctions to be lifted while insisting that it has the right to nuclear weapons. US officials have made it clear that the sanctions will remain in place until the North takes concrete steps towards denuclearization.

Kim Jong Un has vowed in recent political speeches to strengthen its nuclear program to deter the US.

Kim’s influential sister turned to Seoul twice last week, saying her country is open to resumption of talks and conciliatory steps when the conditions are met.

Analysts say North Korea is using the South’s desire for inter-Korean engagement to pressure Seoul to force concessions from Washington on Kim’s behalf as it tries again to use its nuclear weapons for much-needed economic and security benefits.

North Korea’s arms exhibitions could also aim to strengthen internal unity as Kim faces perhaps his toughest moment, approaching a decade of domination, with the pandemic border closings creating another shock to an economy ravaged by sanctions and decades of mismanagement.

Experts say the north is likely to continue its testing activities in the coming months as it steps up its pressure campaign, at least until China starts pushing for calm ahead of the Beijing Olympics early next year.

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