Pyongyang confirmed its seventh missile test within a month on Monday. The most powerful missile test-fire by North Korea since 2017 was reported on Sunday by South Korean and Japanese agencies as their anti-missile detection system reported the launch. This is the second missile test by North Korea in less than a week despite international sanctions. The earlier six launches in the month included two hypersonic missiles.
The Hwasong -12 "mid-range ballistic missile" that was launched on Monday is estimated to have covered a range of 4,500 kilometers before making a landing in the strait between the Korean peninsula and Japan. The neighboring states expressed their concerns on national and regional security following the act.
The North Korean state news agency KCNA reported that the launch was for "selectively testing ground to ground mid-.range and long-range missiles" and for "verifying the overall accuracy of this weapon system". The Hwasong-12 is a large and powerful project that is even capable of carrying a nuclear warhead according to North Korea. The missile was reported to have fitted with cameras in it and the state released two sets of photographs, apparently taken by the missile cameras. One set of photos showed the launching of the missile from a parallel level and from above while the other set showed never-before-seen space-based images of the Korean peninsula and nearby regions. This might indicate the technological advancement the country attained, experts observe.
South Korea expresses its concerns that this might be a move by the North to abandon the nearly five-year-long self-imposed moratorium on testing the longest-range Intercontinental Ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and nuclear weapons. This might be an attempt to exert pressure on the UN, USA, and other countries to lift the sanction imposed on North Korea or to show off their weaponry and technological advancements in front of the world, experts say.
The most powerful and largest missile ever to be launched by North Korea is Hwasong-15. Test-launched in November 2017 the missile has an estimated range of 8,000- 13,000 kilometers. The peace talks initiated between the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the then US President Donald Trump later that year failed to make any considerable results but Kim's country had voluntarily imposed a five-year-long moratorium to halt their nuclear and missile testing activities. The Hwasong-12 missile tested on Monday is reported to be capable of reaching the US territory of Guam, posing a serious threat to the US mainland.
The latest missile expeditions by North Korea are to be viewed in the wake of heating activities in the neighborhood. The Winter Olympics is about to begin in China later this month and South Korea is going to their presidential elections in March.
cover image : bbc.com
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