North Korea confirmed it fired a "new type" of solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Thursday, with leader Kim Jong Un welcoming what he touted as a major step in the country's weapons program. country.
Photos released Friday by North Korean state media show Kim Jong Un smiling in jubilation, accompanied by his daughter, as they watch a black-and-white missile take off in a cloud of smoke.
According to the official KCNA agency, the missile tested Thursday morning, a "Hwasong-18", will constitute a "key means of the strategic military force" of the North.
The development of this new weapon "will fundamentally revamp our strategic deterrence and enhance the effectiveness of our nuclear counterattack," Kim Jong Un said, according to KCNA.
"We will strike deadly and respond aggressively until the enemy abandons their sterile strategy and stupid behavior," he said.
All intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) launched so far by North Korea have been liquid fueled. However, solid-fuel missiles, which Pyongyang has long sought to develop, are more stable and faster to prepare, which makes it more difficult for the enemy to detect and destroy them.
According to US-based analyst Ankit Panda, North Korean images and information from the South Korean military indicate that it was indeed a solid-fuel missile on Thursday, and its first successful test was carried out. by North Korea.
"The missile's exhaust plume is regular", he notes for AFP, specifying that a "solid propellant" was at work.
The South Korean army said Thursday that North Korea had "launched a new type of ballistic missile, possibly solid fuel" towards the Sea of Japan.
This shot triggered a brief alert on the island of Hokkaido, in northern Japan, but the Japanese government quickly confirmed that the projectile had not fallen on its territory.
At a military parade in Pyongyang in February, North Korea showed off a record number of missiles, including what analysts said was a new solid-propellant ICBM.
North Korea "first tested a solid fuel engine before presenting the missile at a military parade in February, then it carried out a real test", recalls Go Myong-hyun, researcher at the Asan Institute of Policy Studies.
"The reason North Korea is obsessed with solid-fuel missiles is that they will dramatically reduce preparation time before launch," Go told AFP. "This is important because the longer it takes to get the missile out of a silo or tunnel, the higher the risk of destruction before launch."
This announcement comes on the eve of one of the most important political anniversaries celebrated in North Korea, the "Day of the Sun", April 15.
This date is the anniversary of the birth of the founding leader of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, grandfather of the current leader Kim Jong Un. It usually gives rise to important weapons tests or military parades .
The tension between Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington is currently at its highest. North Korea has increased its weapons tests in recent months and declared that its status as a nuclear power was "irreversible", definitively closing the door to any negotiation on its disarmament.
South Korea and the United States have strengthened their military cooperation and multiplied large-scale joint maneuvers in the region, which has enraged Pyongyang, which considers these exercises as general rehearsals for an invasion of its territory or to a reversal of his regime.
Earlier this week, Kim Jong Un called for increasing his country's deterrence capabilities to counter "the escalation of maneuvers by US imperialists and traitorous South Korean puppets to unleash a war of aggression".
14/04/2023 06:44:54 - Seoul (AFP) © 2023 AFP