North Korea has confirmed that it tested its most powerful solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as a warning to the United States, with leader Kim Jong Un personally overseeing the launch.
Kim said the launch of the Hwasong-18 on Monday sent a “clear signal to the hostile forces” and “set forth some important new tasks” for the development of the country’s nuclear arsenal, the state Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Tuesday.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
“The successful drill is a practical demonstration of the actual condition and reliability of the formidable striking capabilities and absolute nuclear war deterrent possessed by the DPRK’s armed forces,” Kim was quoted as saying, using the acronym of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“The US imperialists and their vassal forces’ vicious ambition for confrontation will not abate of its own accord.”
The missile, which is theoretically capable of reaching anywhere in the United States, travelled 1,002km (623 miles) and reached an altitude of 6,518km (4,050 miles), the KCNA said.
Monday’s test, which was condemned by the US, South Korea and Japan, was the third such demonstration of a solid-fuel ICBM this year, following launches in April and July.
Solid-fuel missiles are easier to transport and quicker to fire than their liquid-fuelled counterparts, making them harder to detect and more responsive in a military crisis.
The launch of the Hwasong-18, which landed in waters west of Japan’s Hokkaido island, came after North Korea traded barbs over the weekend with the US and its ally South Korea.
On Saturday, Washington and Seoul warned that Pyongyang’s use of nuclear weapons would mark the end of Kim’s regime.
North Korea’s Defence Ministry on Sunday hit back at the allies’ plans to include a nuclear operation drill in their annual joint military exercises next year, labelling the move “an open declaration on nuclear confrontation”.
North Korea has made strides in its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles under Kim, the third generation of his family to rule his secretive country, despite successive rounds of international sanctions and censure.
Pyongyang carried out a record number of weapons tests in 2023 and last year, declared itself an “irreversible” nuclear power.