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North Korea fires a possible solid-fuel ballistic missile

North Korea fires a possible solid-fuel ballistic missile

Posted April. 14, 2023 07:49,   

Updated April. 14, 2023 07:49


North Korea fired an intermediate to long-range ballistic missile that possibly used solid fuel near Pyongyang into the East Sea on Thursday, two months after it first revealed a solid fuel ICBM at a nighttime military parade in February marking the 75th anniversary of its armed forces.

While satellites can detect signs of launch preparations of a liquid ICBM, like Hwasong-15 and Hwasong-17, a solid-fuel ICBM is harder to be spotted because it can be kept hidden in underground tunnels until the very last minute before launch. Along with nuclear miniaturization, a solid-fuel ICBM has been North Korea’s “final gateway” to becoming nuclear power. The firing of what could be a solid-fuel ICBM is understood as the show-off of the regime’s accelerated buildup of nuclear strike power marking the 11th anniversary of Kim Jong Un’s appointment as the first party secretary, following the release of the Hwasong-31 strategic nuclear warhead and the underwater testing of the nuclear torpedo, thereby signaling a new phase of North Korea’s ICBM threats. With the advancement of North Korea’s ability to fire a missile that could reach the mainland United States, the tension between North Korea and the U.S. is expected to intensify even further.

According to the South Korean military, an intermediate to long-range ballistic missile was fired from a transporter erector launcher (TEL) near Pyongyang at 7:23 a.m. on Thursday, which flew about 1,000 kilometers and fell into the waters off Hokkaido, Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The missile’s maximum altitude was known to be 2,000 kilometers. The military assumed that the missile could have flown 3,000 to 4,000 kilometers should it have been fired at a higher angle.

The South Korean Office of National Security held the National Security Council (NSC) meeting immediately after North Korea fired the missile, and vowed to continue to bolster intelligence-sharing activities with the U.S. and Japan. The White House said it would take measures necessary to ensure the safety of South Korea and Japan.

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com · Hyo-Ju Son hjson@donga.com