North Korea Claims Successful Test of New Missile, Raising Nuclear Tensions

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North Korea announces the successful test of a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), signifying a major advancement for the country’s nuclear counterattack capabilities. The Hwasong-18 missile was launched from an undisclosed location in North Korea on April 13, 2023, prompting an emergency “seek shelter” order for the Japanese island of Hokkaido. On April 15, North Korea will observe one of its most significant political anniversaries, the Day of the Sun.

New ballistic missile variant

The statement confirms the initial assessment of the missile as a new form of ballistic missile by the South Korean military. Photographs published by Pyongyang’s state media depicted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, accompanied by his wife, sister, and young daughter, watching the missile launch in a cloud of smoke and beaming with joy after the allegedly successful launch.

Solid-fuel missiles and their advantages

In his New Year’s report, Kim revealed that the solid-fuel missile was one of his primary military modernization objectives. These missiles are simpler to store and transport, more stable and quicker to launch, making them more difficult to detect and destroy in advance. Kim stated that the new weapon would “dramatically enhance the effectiveness of North Korea’s nuclear counterattack posture” and enable the country to “constantly strike extreme fear and terror into the hearts of its enemies.”

North Korean breakthrough

Pyongyang’s previously known intercontinental ballistic missiles were all liquid-fueled, and Friday’s test represents a long-sought breakthrough for the country’s prohibited weapons programmes. According to analysts, this matches North Korea’s typical “pattern of provocation,” in which it first demonstrates its capabilities and then tests new weapons. Pyongyang views these exercises as invasion rehearsals and characterised them as “frantic” and “simulating an all-out war against” North Korea on Tuesday.

Image resource: ©Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
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