North Korea says ‘surprise’ ICBM launch involved Hwasong-15 missile
Seoul, Feb 19 (EFE).- North Korea said on Sunday that the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fired in a “surprise” exercise a day ago was a Hwasong-15 capable of launching a “fatal nuclear counterattack on the hostile forces.”
The official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said the drill was “suddenly organized…under an emergency firepower combat standby instruction…at the dawn of Feb.18.”
The missile was launched from Sunan, which houses Pyongyang’s international airport.
The news agency said the Missile General Bureau guided the drill. It credited the First Red Flag Hero unit for the success that “has a rich launching experience among the units operating ICBMs.”
The unit launched the ICBM Hwasongpho-17, a missile with the longest range in the North Korean arsenal, on Nov.18, 2022.
“The missile (on Sunday) traveled up to a maximum altitude of 5 768.5 km and flew 989 km for 4,015 seconds (one hour and six minutes) before accurately hitting the pre-set area in open waters of the East Sea of Korea,” said the news agency.
Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the missile could fly 14,000 km and was capable of reaching the United States.
North Korea had tested the Hwasong-15 earlier just once. It was in November 2017 amid an escalation of the war of words between Pyongyang and then US President Donald Trump.
The North Korean news agency said the “military threats of the US and South Korea are getting serious to the extent that can not be overlooked.”
In a separate statement, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, reiterated that the US, with its “high-handed and arbitrary practices,” was turning the United Nations Security Council “into a tool for its heinous hostile policy toward the DPRK.”
She used the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“The US and South Korea are openly showing their dangerous greed and attempt to gain the military upper hand and predominant position in the Korean Peninsula,” said Kim Yo Jong.
“This further endangers the situation every moment, destroying the stability of the region.”
North Korea on Friday threatened an “unprecedented” response to the joint military exercises that Seoul and Washington are to carry out in March.
The US and South Korea will hold a joint tabletop simulation drill next week to prepare for a potential nuclear attack from Pyongyang.
In 2022, North Korea test-fired a record number of missiles – around 50 – often in response to joint military drills by the US and South Korea,
The Pentagon has deployed strategic assets in the peninsula. EFE