Kim Jong Un conducted a test on a new solid-fuel hypersonic missile with intermediate range. The test was carried out on Sunday and did not pose any threat to neighboring countries, North Korea said.
What Happened: The test was aimed at gauging the reliability of new multi-stage, high-thrust solid-fuel engines and an intermediate-range hypersonic maneuverable controlled warhead, state news agency KCNA reported.
The news of the missile launch coincided with the departure of a delegation led by Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui to Russia. This comes in the backdrop of escalating tensions between the two Koreas following a series of intercontinental ballistic missile launches by Pyongyang, its first military spy satellite, and the deepening relationship between Pyongyang and Moscow.
These developments come amidst increasing tensions between the Koreas, following a series of intercontinental ballistic missile launches by Pyongyang and its first military spy satellite. The deepening ties between North Korea and Russia have also been a source of concern for the U.S. and its allies.
In a separate commentary, KCNA accused Seoul of ramping up tensions in the region with military drills and calls for armament by South Korean officials. It also indicated a shift in North Korea’s policy, designating the South as a separate, enemy state, a departure from decades of policy.
“Even a little spark can be a catalyst for enormous physical conflicts between the two most hostile countries,” it said.
South Korea’s military reported that Sunday’s missile, launched from Pyongyang, flew about 1,000 km (600 miles) off the country’s east coast. Japan’s defense ministry stated that the maximum altitude was at least 50 km (30 miles).
Why It Matters: Kim’s actions fit into a broader pattern of recent military escalation. Before this, his regime engaged in over 200 rounds of coastal artillery fire, leading South Korea to evacuate civilians from Yeonpyeong Island. This action was a direct violation of the 2018 Inter-Korean Military Agreement that established a maritime buffer zone to prevent sea-based conflicts.
In a recent address, Kim urged the North Korean military to “thoroughly annihilate” South Korea and the U.S. if provoked as a response to the escalating U.S.-South Korea alliance and North Korea’s weapons testing program.
Meanwhile, a recent report also revealed that North Korea appears to be shipping its latest nuclear-capable missiles to Russia. The North Korean leader is expected to receive significant compensation from Russian President Vladimir Putin for these missiles, which are estimated to cost around $5 million each.
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