World news

North Korea claims to have conducted second successful hypersonic missile test

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

North Korea has claimed it conducted the second successful test flight of a hypersonic missile, days after leader Kim Jong Un vowed to bolster his military forces despite pandemic-related difficulties.

Wednesday’s launch, the North’s first known weapons test in about two months, indicates the country will press ahead with plans to modernise its nuclear and missile arsenals rather than return to disarmament talks.

State media the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party expressed “great satisfaction” at the results of the missile test, which was observed by leading weapons officials.

Hypersonic weapons, which fly at speeds in excess of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, could pose crucial challenges to missile defense systems because of their speed and maneuverability.

It is unclear whether and how soon North Korea could manufacture such a high-tech missile, but it was among a wish-list of sophisticated military assets Mr Kim disclosed early last year along with a multi-warhead missile, spy satellites, solid-fueled long-range missiles and underwater-launched nuclear missiles.

Wednesday’s test was the second of its kind since North Korea first launched a hypersonic missile in September.

“The successive successes in the test launches in the hypersonic missile sector have strategic significance in that they hasten a task for modernizsing strategic armed force of the state,” a KCNA dispatch said.

The word “strategic” implies the missile is being developed to deliver nuclear weapons.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

World news