North Korea is testing possible ICBMs

North Korea launched a long-range ballistic missile on Thursday, Tokyo and Seoul officials said, in what would be the Kim Jong Un regime’s most significant weapons test in more than four years.

Initial flight data suggested the missile had flown higher and longer than North Korea’s November 2017 ICBM test — a launch that showed Pyongyang was capable of hitting the US mainland for the first time.

It flew for about 71 minutes, reached an altitude of more than 3,700 miles and traveled more than 680 miles, Japan’s defense ministry said. “It is conceivable that it is an ICBM-class ballistic missile,” Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said. Thursday’s test “far exceeded” that of the ICBM launch four years ago, he added.

A South Korean TV report on the North Korean missile test.


Photo:

yonhap/Shutterstock

The South Korean military believes the launch may have involved a long-range ballistic missile, which could be North Korea’s next-generation Hwasong-17 ICBM, local media reported.

As of Thursday, North Korea had not conducted a full-range ICBM launch or nuclear test in more than four years. Mr Kim had issued a self-imposed moratorium on such large-scale provocations as Pyongyang swung to diplomacy. But two nuclear summits with then-President Donald Trump did not result in a denuclearization deal.

At an emergency meeting with National Security Council officials, South Korean President Moon Jae-in condemned the recent launch and said Mr Kim broke his promise.

Pyongyang had conducted 10 more missile tests this year — more than all of 2021. Two of its recent launches contained parts of North Korea’s next-generation ICBM system, US, South Korean and Japanese officials said. The Kim regime has described this activity as related to its ongoing development of a military reconnaissance satellite.

A North Korean missile test last week failed when the projectile detonated shortly after launch from the outskirts of Pyongyang, the South Korean military said. The Kim regime also tested several artillery shells over the weekend.

The artillery tests and the unsuccessful launch were not mentioned by North Korean state media, which often publicize successful tests.

From railroad missiles to hypersonic missiles, North Korea has shown off new weapons alongside its nuclear bombs and submarines. The WSJ takes a look at Pyongyang’s growing arsenal to see what message it is sending to the world. Composition: Diana Chan

write to Timothy W. Martin at timothy.martin@wsj.com and Chieko Tsuneoka at chieko.Tsuneoka@dowjones.com

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