South Korea and US say NK is testing new ICBM system
Authorities concluded that the regime’s ballistic missile tests on February 27 and March 5 – which Pyongyang said were for a reconnaissance satellite – “involved a new intercontinental ballistic missile system” that Pyongyang is developing, according to the US Department of Defense and Korean authorities. Department of Defense.
The new ICBM system, presumably the Hwasong 17, was first unveiled at a military parade in October 2020, with some analysts calling it a “monster” for its size.
“The purpose of these tests, which did not demonstrate the range of the ICBM, was likely to evaluate this new system before performing a full-range test in the future, potentially disguised as a space launch,” said the Pentagon spokesman John Kirby in a statement.
While the North has not made information about the systems involved in these launches public, the two countries have decided to reveal this information out of the need for the international community to speak with a “united voice in opposing the continued development and proliferation of such weapons” by the North.
“The South Korean government strongly condemns the ballistic missile test firings, which violate several United Nations Security Council resolutions, and urges the North to immediately cease activities that create security problems and increase tensions on the peninsula and the region,” he added. the Department of Defense said, echoing a similar statement issued by the United States.
The Pentagon also said that the US Indo-Pacific Command had stepped up surveillance activities in the West Sea and ordered “increased readiness” of ballistic missile defense forces in the region, for possible follow-up launches from the North.
The United States plans to announce new sanctions on Friday to limit North Korea’s access to foreign items and technology that allow it to advance its weapons program.
The revelation comes as the North has escalated tension on the peninsula by already conducting nine weapons tests this year, including banned hypersonic and medium-range ballistic missiles.
Pyongyang also hinted in January that it would end its self-imposed four-year moratorium on nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missile testing to bolster defense against “hostile politics and United States military threats”. The North last tested an ICBM in 2017, the Hwasong 15, which was assessed as capable of reaching the American mainland.
There are growing fears that the North will continue to test its new, more powerful ICBMs under the guise of a satellite launch. Earlier this week, the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a threat assessment, indicating that the North could resume nuclear and ICBM testing before the end of the year.
On Friday, state media in the North said its leader Kim Jong-un had recently visited the Sohae satellite launch station in the northwest.
At the site, which is capable of firing ICBMs, he ordered officials to “modernize it on an expansion basis so that various rockets can be launched to carry general-purpose satellites, including a military reconnaissance satellite, to the site.” ‘to come up”.
A day earlier, Kim said the regime needed the spy satellite to monitor “US imperialism’s troops of aggression and its vassal forces” in the region.
By Ahn Sung-mi ([email protected])