On Wednesday, North Korea test-launched Hwasong-18 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, which flew for more than 70 minutes before landing in waters near Japan. This move comes days after Pyongyang accused Washington of hostile espionage and threatened to shoot down any reconnaissance aircraft flying near its territory.
What is Hwasong-18?
Described by North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un as the most powerful nuclear weapon, Hwasong-18 was first test fired in April. It is a solid-fuel Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) that is harder to detect and intercept than any other liquid-fuel ICBM of North Korea.
State-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) claimed that Kim Jong Un personally guided the test-fire of the Hwasong-18. It is said that Hwasong-18 could allow North Korea to launch long-range nuclear strikes more quickly and efficiently.
KCNA also said the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) flew a distance of about 1,000 kilometres and at an altitude of over 6,000 kilometres for over 74 minutes before landing in waters near Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
North Korea’s weapon programme
Kim Jong Un has laid out an ambitious plan to give North Korea a robust nuclear arsenal, which has seen many weapons modernisations in recent years. In the future, Kim Jong Un plans to launch a military satellite and make a nuclear-powered submarine.
Earlier, North Korea also announced plans to increase the range of its missiles to 15,000 kilometres. Due to this, the country fired more missiles in 2022 than any other year on record, even launching 23 missiles in a single day.
U.S. and NATO react
In response to the launch, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adam Hodge called it a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and called North Korea to come to the table for serious negotiations rather than raising tensions and destabilising the security situation in the region.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol chaired an emergency National Security Council meeting in Lithuania to discuss the ICBM launch.
A communique from NATO also urged North Korea to abandon its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs and engage in dialogue. However, North Korea is in no mood to negotiate with Washington, Seoul, or Tokyo.
War of words
On Monday, The sister of Kim Jong Un, Kim Yo Jong, accused the U.S. of using a spy plane to enter the North’s Exclusive Economic Zone at least eight times. She also warned America that in case of repeated illegal intrusion, the U.S. forces would experience critical consequences.
The U.S. and South Korea have dismissed the accusations and said it was a tactic of North Korea to create tension.
Last month, on the 73rd anniversary of the Korean War, North Koreans in Pyongyang marched in anti-US rallies. The rally was planned to denounce the U.S.A. as the Korean peninsula’s destroyer of peace and stability.
Meanwhile, the trio of South Korea, Japan and the U.S. have been holding military exercises to deter any threat from North Korea.