Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has personally overseen the successful test of a hypersonic missile and called on scientists to accelerate efforts to build up the country’s ‘military muscle’, state media reported. Reported Wednesday.

This is the first time Kim has been shown in almost two years attending a missile launch.

Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Labor Party, splashed the launch on its front page with photos posted on its website showing Kim Jong Un dressed in a long, black leather jacket and using binoculars to cover the launch. look. Other images showed the missile blowing into a cloud of smoke and Kim on a train discussing maps with officials, including his sister.

“The superior maneuverability of the hypersonic glider was more strikingly verified by the final test fire,” said the official Korean Central News Agency, indicating that the launch involved a missile that was first tested last week.

Japan and South Korea both reported the launch Tuesday said they suspect it is a ballistic missile, which is banned by the United Nations.

Despite the imposition of international sanctions and a weakening economy, Kim has insisted on modernizing North Korea’s army and accepting more sophisticated weapons since taking power a decade ago.

A missile launches into a dark sky in clouds of smokeThis photo taken on January 11, 2022 and released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows what North Korea says is a hypersonic missile test fire conducted by the Academy of Defense of the DVK in an unknown location [KCNA via AFP]

Hypersonic missiles are listed among the “top priority” tasks for strategic weapons in the North’s current five-year plan, and it conducted its first test – of the Hwasong-8 – in September 2021. Kim has vowed to continue to build the country’s defense. capabilities at a key meeting of North Korea’s ruling party last month.

After watching the test, Kim urged military scientists to “accelerate efforts to steadily build the country’s strategic military muscle, both in quality and quantity, and to further modernize the military,” the KCNA said. .

Chad O’Caroll, who heads the Korea Risk Group, which monitors North Korea, said the prominence given to Kim’s presence at the launch was significant.

“This means Kim is not worried about being personally associated with tests of great new technology. and does not care how the US sees it, “he wrote on Twitter.

Kim has not been photographed at a missile launch since March 2020.

“North Korea’s so-called hypersonic weapon is not technologically ready for deployment. But the state media has lifted the latest test, personally under the supervision of Kim Jong-un, as ‘final verification’ of a new military capability, “said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, in e- post comment said. “It looks like classic North Korean boxing control, claiming the success of an agenda item from Kim’s earlier speech in an effort to strengthen political legitimacy and increase diplomatic pressure. Nevertheless, Pyongyang’s ability to threaten its neighbors continues to grow, underscoring the urgency of US-South Korea-Japan cooperation on missile defense and the need for greater accountability in China and Russia’s enforcement of UN sanctions. “

Talks on deconstruction have been halted since the collapse of a 2019 summit between Kim and then-US President Donald Trump, with Pyongyang saying the United States and its allies must stop “hostile policies” such as sanctions or military exercises to end diplomacy. resume.

US Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland called the launches dangerous and destabilizing.

“It’s obviously taking us in the wrong direction,” she said during a briefing in Washington on Tuesday. “As you know, since the inception of this administration, the United States has said that we are open to dialogue with North Korea, that we are open to talking about COVID and humanitarian aid, and instead shoot down missiles.”

Despite their name, analysts say the biggest concern about hypersonic weapons is not speed, which can sometimes be matched or surpassed by traditional ballistic missile warheads, but their maneuverability.

Photos released by state media appear to show the same type of missile and warhead that was tested for the first time last week, analysts said.

After being released from the rocket launcher, the hypersonic glider made a 600 km (375 miles) “glide jump” and then 240 km of “corkscrew maneuver” before hitting a target in the sea 1,000 km further, the report said. .

On Tuesday, South Korea said the second test appeared to show improved performance, with the missile reaching top speeds up to 10 times the speed of sound (12,348 kilometers per hour or 7,673 miles per hour), although they did not comment on the its movability.

Russia, the United States and China have all said they have successfully tested hypersonic sliding vehicles, with Russia widely regarded as the current leader in technology.

Kim looks through binoculars at a windowNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un observes what state media say was the test of a hypersonic missile. Analysts say it was a weapon that was tested for the first time last week [KCNA via AFP]

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