[Editorial] NK’s ICBM tests
Pyongyang Continues Dangerous Missile Play; necessary measures to block cryptohacking
North Korea on Saturday released images of its leader Kim Jong-un conducting an on-site inspection of the regime’s test-fire of a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile, revealing new details about the dangerous missile game that continues to raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Peninsula.
According to Pyongyang’s state media Korean Central News Agency, the missile was launched from Pyongyang International Airport on Friday. The missile flew 999.2 kilometers in one hour, eight minutes and 55 seconds with an apogee of 6,040.9 kilometers before landing in the international waters of the Baltic Sea.
KCNA hailed the test firing as proof of the “reliability of the new major strategic weapons system” and blamed the recent large-scale military drills jointly conducted by South Korea and the United States as a reason for the saber-rattling.
What caught the attention of North Korea viewers are the photos showing Kim with her daughter in a white winter jacket. In one photo, Kim can be seen walking with his daughter against the backdrop of the missile and launch vehicle. It is the first time that Kim’s “beloved daughter” has appeared in North Korean media.
Experts have speculated as to why photos of Kim’s daughter were revealed at this time. It may have to do with confidence in Kim in the visible progress made in ICBM test firings, as well as a sign of encouragement for the scientists and engineers improving the reliability of the deadly weapons. Some experts floated the idea that the new images are an indication that North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons program will be a long-term project that can be handed down to Kim’s future successors.
Aside from a specific reason to reveal Kim’s daughter, it is truly alarming to both South Korean and US security officials that North Korea is moving forward with its missile development program, especially ICBMs.
Unlike other limited-range missiles, the Hwasong-17 is reportedly capable of carrying multiple warheads with a range of about 15,000 kilometers, enough to reach the entire US mainland.
North Korea also test-fired the Hwasong-17 on November 3, but it ended up failing to fly as intended. However, the latest test fire is widely seen as a major advance, although it is not clear whether North Korea has secured full ICBM warhead technology.
For Kim, such advances in ICBM technology, which could in theory hit the US mainland, are closely linked to his threat-based strategy to ensure the regime’s survival. For example, KCNA quoted Kim as saying that the launch of the ICBM has confirmed his regime’s acquisition of a powerful and reliable capability to counter nuclear threats. “If the enemies continue to pose threats to the DPRK, often deploying nuclear weapons, our party and government will resolutely respond with nuclear weapons,” Kim said, referring to the country’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Another key revelation on Saturday is that North Korea officially mentioned the existence of Pyongyang’s military units responsible for ICBM operations – a reflection of the military attention and resources being channeled to the units.
In response to the ICBM test launch, South Korea held a joint air exercise with the United States on Saturday, which involved the deployment of a US B-1B Lancer strategic bomber, escorted by South Korea’s F-35A jets and US F-16 fighter jets.
However, such joint exercises as well as close monitoring of North Korea’s military actions are not enough, given that North Korea is now doing everything they can to push for the missile project, and China and Russia are making it difficult to set UN sanctions against the militaristic regime for missile-related moves.
For example, North Korea stole $620 million in cryptocurrency funds by hacking into a gaming company in March—a single act that could cover the cost of over 30 ballistic missiles test-launched in the first half of this year. While strengthening deterrence against the North’s threats, South Korea should work closely with allies to stop Pyongyang’s illicit efforts to secure the funds for its looming missile program.
By Korea Herald ([email protected])