North Korea has claimed that it successfully tested a new hypersonic missile called Hwasong-8 on Tuesday. State media said the new missile was one of the “five most important” new weapons systems laid out in its five-year military development plan.
They called the missile a “strategic weapon”, which usually means it has nuclear capabilities. Tuesday’s launch is another indication of Pyongyang’s growing weapons technology amid strict sanctions.
“The development of this weapons system…[has increased] the nation’s capabilities for self-defence in every way,” North Korean state news outlet KCNA said. Tuesday’s launch also saw North Korea introduce missile fuel ampoule for the first time – described by North Korea analyst Ankit Panda as a “significant milestone”.
This is a technology that allows missiles to be pre-fuelled and then sent to the field in canisters. This means it could potentially stay launch-ready for years. The latest launch also marked the country’s third missile test this month. It has already revealed a new type of cruise missile, as a well as a new train-launched ballistic missile system.
Yesterday’s launch came as its North Korean envoy Kim Song defended the country’s right to develop weapons at the annual UN General Assembly in New York.
Mr Kim said the country was “building up our national defence in order to defend ourselves and reliably safeguard the security and peace of the country”.
It has also repeatedly accused South Korea of double standards over military activities.
South Korea recently tested its first submarine-launched ballistic missile, which it said was needed as deterrence against North Korea’s “provocations”. Last month the UN atomic agency said North Korea appeared to have restarted a reactor which could produce plutonium for nuclear weapons, calling it a “deeply troubling” development.
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