N.Korea says new ballistic missile with hypersonic warhead successfully launched


North Korea on Wednesday confirmed the successful launch of a new type of intermediate-range hypersonic missile amid ongoing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday witnessed the first test-firing of Hwasongpho-16B, a new type of intermediate-range solid-fueled ballistic missile loaded with a newly developed hypersonic gliding warhead, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.

“The hypersonic glide warhead, separated from the missile after its launch towards the northeast at an army unit’s training field on the outskirts of Pyongyang Municipality, reached its first peak at the height of 101.1 kilometers (62.8 miles) and the second at 72.3 km (44.9 mi), while making 1,000-km- (621-mi-) long flight as scheduled to accurately hit the waters of the East Sea of Korea,” it said.

On Tuesday, North Korea had fired the missile into the East Sea, or the Sea of Japan, which came about two weeks after Kim Jong-un witnessed the firing drills involving “super-large” multiple rocket launchers in the country’s western region.

Praising his scientists and officials on the latest launch, Kim described the Hwasongpho-16B as another strategic offensive weapon developed by his scientists as part of the implementation of the three principles of the party’s central committee.

“Building missile armed force for rapidly, accurately, and powerfully striking any target in the enemy side worldwide by perfecting the project for putting all the tactical, operational, and strategic missiles with various ranges on solid-fueled, warhead-controlled, and nuclear warhead-carrying basis,” the agency quoted Kim as saying, referring to the principles.

Pyongyang had fired a new surface-to-sea cruise missile, the Padasuri-6, from its eastern coast on Feb. 14, while it launched its first ballistic missile this year on Jan. 14.

On Tuesday, the US launched trilateral air drills with South Korea and Japan following a missile launch by North Korea involving B-52 bombers.

Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo have closed ranks against Pyongyang as the two sides have held regular rival military exercises on the Korean Peninsula.

The three allies now also have a real-time system in place for sharing data on North Korean missiles.

Meanwhile, South Korean authorities on Saturday seized a vessel in its waters off Yeosu that was en route to Russia from North Korea via China.

The 3,000-ton cargo ship was seized along with 13 crew members abroad, including a Chinese captain and other Chinese and Indonesian members on Saturday in suspected violation of UN sanctions against North Korea, Yonhap News reported.

However, South Korean authorities did not release any details about the ship or what it was carrying.

On Tuesday, South Korea also imposed sanctions on two Russian companies and two Russian individuals over their alleged links to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

* Writing by Islamuddin Sajid.

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