North Korea said Thursday that it had successfully tested its new intercontinental ballistic missile, supposedly solid fuel, the country’s official media said, which days ago threatened to shoot down US spy planes.
The official KCNA news agency said the Hwasong-18, a new solid fuel projectile that had only been tested in April, traveled 1,001 kilometers reaching a maximum height of 6,648 kilometers before falling into the Sea of Japan.
The flight time of about 70 minutes is similar to other intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fires practiced by North Korea, the experts said.
The launch, supervised by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was a “huge explosion” that shook “the entire planet,” KCNA said.
The agency also said that Kim promised a “series of stronger military offensives” until the United States and South Korea change their policies towards this hermetic communist country.
The launch, which Seoul had detected on Wednesday, comes at a time of very tense relations between the two Koreas, which have paralyzed all diplomatic contact.
The North increased its weapons tests and its leader called for further development of its nuclear arsenal, while the South and the United States increase their military maneuvers in the area and promise to end power in Pyongyang if it resorts to its atomic weapons.
The shooting “is a serious provocation that harms peace and security on the Korean peninsula” and violates UN sanctions against Pyongyang, Seoul’s military command said.
A spokesman for UN Secretary General António Guterres said the organization is “very concerned” about the launch, which was also condemned by the United States and its allies.
This launch is a blatant violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, unnecessarily escalating tensions and threatening to destabilize the security situation in the region,” US National Security Council spokesman Adam Hodge said in a statement.
Before the first shot of the Hwasong-18 in April, Pyongyang had launched a Hwasong-15 in February, also with a long range, which flew over a similar distance of 989 km.
Notice to US
The latest shot comes just two days after North Korea accused the United States of violating its airspace with spy planes and condemned its plans to deploy submarine nuclear missiles near the peninsula.
A spokesman for the North Korean Ministry of National Defense said the United States “has intensified espionage activities beyond wartime levels.”
There is no guarantee that an incident as shocking as shooting down a US Air Force strategic reconnaissance aircraft” in the Sea of Japan will not occur, the spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.
Kim Jong Un’s sister, who is highly influential within the North Korean power structures, said in another statement that US aircraft had violated the country’s airspace twice on Monday.
Kim Yo Jong warned that Pyongyang would not respond to US reconnaissance activities outside its exclusive economic zone, but would take “decisive action” if the maritime demarcation line between the two countries was crossed.
This new test coincided with the presence of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at the NATO summit this week in Lithuania, where he seeks to strengthen cooperation with the alliance in the face of the growing military threat from Pyongyang, the presidential office said in seoul.
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Pyongyang often time its shows of force to disrupt what it perceives as diplomatic coordination against them, in this case the leaders of South Korea and Japan meeting during the NATO summit,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at the University Ewha from Seoul.