North Korea launches intermediate-range missile as elections loom for South

A woman walks past a TV showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at the main railway station in Seoul on March 18. | AFP-JIJI
Published April 2, 2024

North Korea on Tuesday tested an apparent intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) — possibly loaded with a hypersonic warhead — just over a week before a key general election in South Korea.

South Korean military officials said they suspected the launch, which would be Pyongyang’s second IRBM test this year, may have been intended to gauge the weapon’s performance after it tested a solid-fuel engine for a “new-type intermediate-range hypersonic missile” on March 19.

In January, the North also conducted a test of an IRBM loaded with what it said was “a hypersonic maneuverable controlled warhead.”

“North Korea appears to have put a hypersonic warhead on top of the delivery system used in the engine test last month,” an unidentified senior South Korean military official told the Yonhap news agency Tuesday.

Although the latest missile flew for less than 10 minutes, shorter than the flight time of past IRBM launches, its speed was similar to that of a hypersonic missile, the official added.

“(We) assess (Tuesday’s launch) is connected to the solid-fuel ground test that North Korea made public in March,” Yonhap quoted Col. Lee Sung-jun, a spokesperson for the South Korean joint chiefs of staff as saying.



RELATED: North Korea tests missile, Seoul says, ahead of vote seen as gauge of support for hardline South Korean leader

Published April 2, 2024

Seoul, South Korea CNN  — North Korea test-fired a presumed intermediate-range ballistic missile on Tuesday, South Korean officials said, its latest military maneuver since leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year declaration that he was ending a policy seeking reconciliation with the South.

Pyongyang made no immediate comment on the suspected test, which comes just over a week before key legislative elections in South Korea that will provide a barometer of support for conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol, who has taken a hard line against the North during his two years in office.

North Korea, which has faced years of international sanctions over its nuclear weapons program, has ramped up its weapons tests and military exercises in recent weeks.

On March 19, Pyongyang said it had tested a multistage, solid-fueled rocket engine for a “new-type intermediate-range hypersonic missile,” according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Kim said after that test the development of the IRBM system was as important to North Korea’s security as its intercontinental ballistic missiles, which in theory could reach the United States mainland.



RELATED: South Korea says North Korea has test-fired a missile into its eastern waters

Published April 1,  2024

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s military says it has detected that North Korea fired at least one ballistic missile toward waters off its eastern coast, adding to a series of weapons demonstrations that have raised tensions in the region.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday did not immediately confirm how far the missile flew. It was the North’s first known launch event since March 18, when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a live-fire drill of artillery systems designed to target South Korea’s capital.

Japan’s coast guard shared an assessment of the country’s Defense Ministry that the missile has already landed but still urged caution for vessels passing the area. Japanese broadcaster NHK said the missile likely didn’t reach the country’s exclusive economic zone.

The launch came two days after North Korea reaffirmed its plans to launch several reconnaissance satellites this year in violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions. South Korea’s military said Monday there were no signs that a satellite launch is impending at the North’s main launch facility in the northwest.




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