SEOUL (REUTERS) – The missile North Korea fired off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed hypersonic missile, state news media KCNA reported on Wednesday (Sept 29).
North Korea fired the missile towards the sea off its east coast, South Korea’s military said, as Pyongyang called on the United States and South Korea to scrap their “double standards” on weapons programmes to restart diplomatic talks.
The development of the weapon system increases North Korea’s defence capabilities, KCNA said, describing the hypersonic missile as “strategic weapon”.
North Korea has been steadily developing its weapons systems amid an impasse over talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals in return for US sanctions relief.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not inspect the launch, according to the report.
“In the first test-launch, national defence scientists confirmed the navigational control and stability of the missile in the active section,” the report said.
It said the missile, called Hwasong-8, performed to its technical specifications “including the guiding maneuverability and the gliding flight characteristics of the detached hypersonic gliding warhead.”
The Hwasong series missiles use liquid propellant engines, according to Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“This is the first test of a liquid propellant missile in North Korea since November 2017,” he said in a post on Twitter.
North Korea last week said it was willing to consider another summit with South if mutual respect between the neighbours can be assured, following South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s call for a declaration to formally end the 1950-1953 Korean War.
The denuclearisation negotiations, initiated between former US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2018, have stalled since 2019.
North Korea and South Korea both test-fired ballistic missiles on Sept 15, the latest volley in an arms race in which both nations have developed increasingly sophisticated weapons while efforts prove fruitless to get talks going on defusing tensions.
On Tuesday, North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), the isolated state’s rubber-stamp parliament, met to discuss national economic policy, youth education, and other issues, state media reported in a separate dispatch.
The North’s parliament rarely meets and usually serves to approve decisions on issues such as governing structures and budgets that have been created by the state’s powerful Workers’ Party, members of which form the vast majority of the assembly.
North Korea has not reported any confirmed Covid-19 cases, but has imposed crippling border closings, banned most international travel and severely restricted movement inside the country, seeing the pandemic as a matter of national survival.