North Korea says it has made further progress in developing potentially nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles. Ruler Kim Jong Un watched the Defense Science Academy test a hypersonic missile on Tuesday, state-controlled media reported on Wednesday. Kim acknowledged the great success in developing such weapons.
Violation of UN ban
According to observers, the latest test underscored the country’s intention to modernize its weapon systems. It was the third time North Korea said it had tested a hypersonic missile since September. Hypersonic weapons are particularly difficult to intercept, as they can travel more than five times the speed of sound and are highly manoeuvrable. So-called hypersonic gliders can be launched from ballistic missiles. UN resolutions ban North Korea from testing ballistic missiles, which, depending on the design, can also carry a nuclear warhead.
South Korea and Japan said Tuesday that North Korea was testing a suspected ballistic missile. The South Korean military spoke of possible technical improvements compared to the North Korean missile test last week.
In the most recent test, the North Korean media reports that the “superior maneuverability of the hypersonic gliding missile was demonstrated even more conspicuously by the last test launch”. The development of such weapons is one of the “five core tasks” of the five-year plan for expanding defense capabilities set out last year.
For years, the communist leadership in Pyongyang has been pushing ahead with the development of missiles that could be equipped with nuclear warheads. It is therefore subject to harsh international sanctions.