North Korea announced on Friday that a new intercontinental ballistic missile propelled by solid propellants had successfully been test-launched.
If this discovery is validated, it may give the nation access to a more difficult-to-detect weapon that could be used to attack the mainland United States.
The launch, which was part of a series of tests involving more than 100 missiles thrown into the sea since the beginning of 2022, was discovered by neighbors a day after it was reported by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly oversaw the test on-site and touted the missile, known as the Hwasong-18, as the most potent piece of his nuclear arsenal that would improve counterattack capabilities in the event of an external threat.
Kim vowed to increase his nuclear weapons even further to make his opponents “suffer from extreme anxiety and fear while facing an insurmountable threat and be plunged into regrets and despair over their decisions.”
North Korea has used the expansion of US-South Korean military drills—which it denounces as invasion drills while using them as an excuse to advance its weapons development—to justify its weapons displays.
According to respected comrade Kim Jong Un, our party and government’s ongoing strategy to counteract military threats and the deteriorating security situation on the Korean Peninsula is to quicken the development of more modern and more potent weapon systems.
According to quotes from Kim, the Hwasong-18 would help North Korea quickly improve its nuclear response posture and back its aggressive military policy of maintaining “nuke for nuke and an all-out confrontation for an all-out confrontation” against its adversaries.
The Hwasong-18 weapons system, which the strategic forces of the nation will control, will serve as its most potent means of defending (North Korea), preventing invasions, and preserving national security, according to KCNA.
Since 2017, North Korea has tested several intercontinental ballistic missiles that have the potential range to reach the U.S. mainland.
However, its earlier missiles were propelled by liquid-fuel engines, which must be fueled just before launch because they cannot be kept driven for extended periods.
An ICBM with integrated solid propellants would be quicker to launch and more mobile, making it harder for adversaries to identify and block the launch.
How near the North has come to obtaining a functional solid-fuel ICBM that might reach and strike the U.S. mainland, though, was not immediately apparent from Friday’s report.
According to the Defense Ministry of South Korea, North Korea lacks the reentry vehicle technology required to shield ICBM warheads from the harsh conditions of atmospheric reentry.
Even though he admitted the possibility, South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-Sup told lawmakers last month that North Korea probably hasn’t yet acquired the technology to mount nuclear bombs on its most sophisticated short-range missiles aimed at South Korea.