North Korea releases footage of first-ever solid-fuel ICBM launch
North Korea announced Friday that it successfully launched a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time, a significant development as the country seeks to develop more powerful and harder-to-detect weapons.
Thursday’s launch created a scare in northern Japan, where sirens went off and people were briefly urged to take cover as the government encountered difficulties in tracking the missile. The missile, the Hwasong-18, later fell into the Sea of Japan.
Footage of the launch was released on Friday and the state-run news agency said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed “great satisfaction” at the “eye-opening” success of the test.
“The DPRK’s nuclear war deterrent for self-defence is rapidly developing at increasing speed,” the news agency said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Also on Friday, the U.S. and South Korea carried out surprise air drills in a show of force against North Korea in response to the missile launch. The drills included the nuclear-capable B-52H heavy bomber.
The latest developments come amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has ignored calls from South Korea for more than a week, an indication that North Korea has cut its last few communication channels with the South.
Earlier this month, North Korea said it had carried out another test of an underwater drone capable of launching nuclear weapons, just days after the U.S., South Korea and Japan carried out joint naval exercises off the coast of South Korea.
North Korea has also carried out tests of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), including a test in mid-March, coinciding with U.S.-South Korean military drills, which North Korea said were raising tensions to an “extremely dangerous level.”