North Korean hypersonic missile in early development phase, Seoul says

(Update 1: Re-ledes with Seoul reaction, new headline, minor edits)

Seoul, Sep 29 (EFE).- The hypersonic missile that Pyongyang claims to have tested is in an early stage of development, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said Wednesday, adding both Seoul and Washington have the capacity to intercept it.

Seoul believes the weapon “is at an early stage of development, and it is judged that it will take a considerable period of time before deployment in combat, considering the detected speed and other parameters of the ‘hypersonic missile’ that North Korea test-fired yesterday,” said the JCS in a statement.

“Currently, the [South Korea-United States] joint assets are evaluated at a level that can detect and intercept them,” it added.

Earlier Wednesday, state news agency KCNA reported Pyongyang claimed to have tested its first missile of this nature, which it named the Hwasong-8, the previous day.

This type of technology for the most part is still in development globally and very few countries – believed to be only Russia and China – seem to have it fully operational.

Hypersonic missiles can break the sound barrier by at least five times, and the fact that they can fly at low altitude and trace non-parabolic trajectories makes them a very difficult tactical weapon to intercept.

During the missile test, national defense scientists “confirmed the navigational control and stability of the missile in the active section and also its technical specifications including the guiding maneuverability and the gliding flight characteristics of the detached hypersonic gliding warhead,” KCNA said.

“It also ascertained the stability of the engine as well as of missile fuel ampoule that has been introduced for the first time,” it added.

The test results “proved that all the technical specifications met the design requirements.”

The development of this missile “is of great strategic significance” in boosting the “independent power of ultra-modern defense science and technology of the country and in increasing the nation’s capabilities for self-defense in every way.”

The latest North Korean test exemplifies the recent arms escalation on the peninsula.

Pyongyang tested two ballistic missiles last week and a cruise missile before that, to which Seoul responded by testing its first submarine-launched ballistic missile and announcing new weapons developments.

North Korea, which this year has reactivated nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities, has still not responded to the United States’ offer to reactivate the denuclearization talks, stalled since 2019. EFE


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