The Hwasong-17 is the largest road-mobile liquid fuel ICBM in the world.
North Korea has confirmed that it fired an intercontinental ballistic missile and that it was the Hwasong-17, known as the country’s “monster missile”.
The launch of the banned missile was spotted by neighboring South Korea and Japan on Thursday, hours before South Korean President Yook Suk-yeol was scheduled to fly to Tokyo for a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
It was the latest in a series of weapons tests that coincided with Freedom Shield — the large-scale joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea that began Monday and which Pyongyang regards as rehearsal for an invasion.
North Korea’s state media confirmed the ICBM test on Friday, saying it was intended to demonstrate a “tough reaction attitude” and was in response to the “provocative and aggressive” military exercises.
Pyongyang said the missile traveled at a maximum altitude of about 6,000 km (3,700 mi) and flew some 1,000 km (620 mi) “before landing accurately at the preset area in the open waters of Korea’s Baltic Sea,” also known as the Sea of Japan.
Photos accompanying the state media reports showed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watching the launch with his daughter and included photos from space apparently taken by a camera mounted on the missile.
“The strategic weapon launch exercise serves as an opportunity to issue a stronger warning to the enemies who are deliberately escalating tension on the Korean peninsula while constantly resorting to irresponsible and reckless military threats,” the state news agency said. KCNA.
Seoul and Washington have stepped up defense cooperation in the face of growing military and nuclear threats from North Korea, which conducted a record number of weapons tests in 2022 as it ramped up its military modernization campaign.
This week it tested short-range ballistic missiles and strategic cruise missiles from a submarine.
On Friday, the US and South Korea announced they would begin large-scale Ssangyong amphibious landing exercises from March 20, in which 40 British marines will also participate. Like Freedom Shield, the amphibious exercises have been suspended since 2018 as part of the effort to make progress in the denuclearization of North Korea.
“The upcoming training will demonstrate the will of the South Korea-US alliance to realize ‘peace through strength’ and we will further strengthen the combined defense posture to defend South Korea,” said Marine Corps Commander Kim Gye-hwan to the Yonhap news. desk.
The ongoing exercises are likely to lead to more weapons testing from North Korea, which sees such exercises as a sign of animosity between the US and South Korea.
Ballistic missile testing is prohibited under United Nations Security Council resolutions on North Korea’s nuclear program.
The Hwasong-17 is North Korea’s largest missile and the largest liquid-fueled road-mobile ICBM in the world.
It is believed to have the range to deliver a nuclear warhead to targets anywhere in the US.
It was first tested in March last year and marked North Korea’s first ICBM launch since 2017.
Some analysts said some changes appeared to have been made to the weapon since then.