North Korea’s Provocative Move: Tests New Hypersonic Missile to Target U.S.

On Tuesday, North Korea’s government-run media reported that the country successfully tested technology that will be used in their new missile.

The official Korean Central News Agency reports that on Tuesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un led his military in a test of a multi-stage solid fuel engine for launching a new type of intermediate-range hypersonic rocket at the North’s rocket launch site, the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground.

The missile, which is more powerful and agile, will be used to target far-off U.S. targets, including the U.S. Pacific Territory of Guam.

Kim said “enemies” know more about the missile’s strategic value. He claimed that it was capable of hitting the U.S. continent. He praised “the success of the important test.”

Experts say that North Korea is continuing to develop intermediate-range missiles capable of reaching Alaska and hopes to be able to strike closer targets such as U.S. military bases on Japan’s Okinawa Island. Experts say that the North also seeks hypersonic weapons capable of defeating U.S. missile defense systems and those in South Korea.

North Korea announced in January that it had successfully tested a new intermediate-range solid-fuel ballistic missile with a hypersonic and maneuverable warhead. North Korea announced in November that it had conducted engine tests on an intermediate-range ballistic missile.

North Korea has been pushing to develop solid propellants that are built into missiles. This makes them harder to detect, compared to liquid-propellant rockets.

It is not clear what the speed and maneuverability are of North Korea’s hypersonic weapons.

Chang Young-keun is a missile specialist at the South Korean Research Institute for National Strategy. He predicted that Tuesday’s test of an engine would indicate North Korea will soon launch a new hypersonic rocket.

Kim has publicly pledged to develop a hypersonic weapon, one of many high-tech weapons systems he hopes to have in place amid what he calls the intensifying hostility between the U.S.

South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. said that they had detected several ballistic missile tests by North Korea on Monday. This was the first time that North Korea had fired missiles in a little over a month.

Experts predict that North Korea is likely to intensify its missile testing ahead of the U.S. Presidential election in November.