North Korea claims that it has successfully tested a hyper-sonic missile. The academy for defense science shot down a rocket and precisely hit a predetermined target 700 kilometres away, the state media reported.
The news agency KCNA reported that the test had confirmed the functionality of the flight controls and the "stability of the rocket in the active flight phase". In addition, the "fuel ampoule system under winter conditions" had been successfully tested.
Together with previous successes in testing hyper-sonic missiles, this is of "strategic importance". Hyper-sonic weapons can reach more than five times the speed of sound - around 6180 kilometres per hour - and are maneuverable in flight.
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They are difficult to spot and intercept for conventional air defense. If the report from Pyongyang is confirmed, it would be North Korea's second test of such a missile in four months.
In September, according to North Korean media reports at the time, the country fired a Hwasong-8 hypersonic missile from northern Chagang Province.
The neighboring countries South Korea and Japan had announced the day before that North Korea had probably fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan for test purposes.
The Japanese government spoke of a possible ballistic missile, according to the South Korean military it was unclear what type of projectile it was and how far it had flown.
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UN resolutions prohibit North Korea from testing such missiles, which, depending on their design, can also carry a nuclear warhead.
Negotiations with the USA stall
The politically largely isolated leadership in Pyongyang has been promoting the development of missiles for years that not only hit South Korea and Japan, but could also carry nuclear warheads as far as the USA.
The country has declared itself a nuclear power. In light of the negotiations on its nuclear weapons program, however, its status is being kept open. The US negotiations with North Korea have not made progress for years.
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North Korea's ruler Kim Jong-un announced at the conference of the Central Committee of the Communist Workers' Party last week that he would further expand the military capabilities of his armed forces.
The US is demanding that North Korea renounce all nuclear weapons and have offered talks about this. North Korea rejects that. Because of the regular tests of missiles that can be equipped with nuclear warheads, the country is subject to severe international sanctions.
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