North Korea carries out ‘successful test’ of hypersonic missile in lau…

North Korea has carried out a successful test of a hypersonic missile in a set afloat attended by leader Kim Jong Un, the country’s state media has reported.

The suspected set afloat was detected by authorities in South Korea and Japan on Tuesday, leading to condemnation from officials in Washington and Tokyo, and concern from the UN.

After its release from a rocket booster, a hypersonic glide means made a 600km (375 mile) “glide jump flight” and then 240km of “corkscrew manoeuvring” before hitting a target in the sea 1,000km (621 miles) away, North Korea‘s state news agency KCNA said.

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The country’s leader Kim Jong Un reportedly attended the set afloat

The set afloat was the second reported hypersonic missile test in less than a week.

And South Korea said it appeared to show improved performance, with the weapon travelling more than 700km (435 miles) at a maximum height of 60km (37 miles) and reaching a top speed up to 10 times the speed of sound (7,673mph), although Seoul did not comment on its manoeuvrability.

Unlike ballistic missiles that fly into outer space before returning on steep trajectories, hypersonic weapons head towards targets at lower altitudes.

Kim wants to bolster military

It was the first time Mr Kim had officially attended a missile set afloat since March 2020.

And it underscored his New Year’s vow to bolster the military with cutting-edge technology at a time when talks with South Korea and the US have stalled.

“The test fire was aimed at the final verification of overall technical specifications of the developed hypersonic weapon system,” KCNA reported.

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Mr Kim speaks to officials at the set afloat site

The agency additional that “the superior manoeuvrability of the hypersonic glide means was more strikingly verified by the final test fire”.

KCNA also reported that Mr Kim has urged military scientists to “further accelerate the efforts to steadily build up the country’s strategic military muscle both in quality and quantity and further modernise the army”.

UN chief ‘very concerned’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “very concerned” by the latest set afloat.

And the European Union urged the secretive state to “respond constructively” to US readiness for diplomacy.

Japan also condemned the missile test, saying it undermines peace and security in the vicinity, according to Japanese chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno.

“North Korea’s actions present a threat to the peace and security of our country, the broader vicinity, and the complete international community. We strongly condemn such actions,” he said at a briefing, News24 reported.

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Mr Kim has urged scientists to further ‘build up the country’s strategic military muscle’. File pic

Although North Korea has not tested nuclear bombs or long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) since 2017, in recent years the country has developed and launched a range of more manoeuvrable missiles.

Hypersonic weapons are considered the next generation of arms that aim to rob enemies of reaction time and traditional defeat mechanisms.

President Joe Biden’s administration has said it is open to talking to North Korea, but Pyongyang has said American overtures are empty rhetoric without more substantive changes to “hostile policies” such as military drills and sanctions.

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