North Korea successfully test-fires an intermediate-range solid-fuel ballistic missile

North Korea on Monday said it successfully test-fired a solid-fuel intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) carrying a hypersonic warhead on Sunday, state-run news agency KCNA reported.

In a bid to verify the warhead’s gliding and manoeuvring capabilities and the reliability of newly developed multi-stage high-thrust solid-fuel engines, the missile loaded with a hypersonic manoeuvrable controlled warhead was launched on Sunday afternoon.

It did not reveal the flight distance and other details of the missile.

The Missile General Bureau said the test was conducted as part of the agency and its affiliated defence science institutes’ “regular activities for developing powerful weapon systems,” Yonhap reported citing KCNA.

North Korea also announced that the test fire “never affected the security of any neighbouring country and had nothing to do with the regional situation.”

South Korea’s military on Sunday said it detected the launch from an area in or around Pyongyang at about 2:55 pm (local time).

According to South Korea’s military, the missile flew approximately 1,000 kilometres before splashing into the sea.

This marked North’s first missile launch since the firing of a solid-fuel Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile on December 18.

Last week, South Korea’s Defence Minister Shin Won-sik said North Korea could test-fire a new type of IRBM as early as this month after the North Korean regime staged solid-fuel engine tests for a new IRBM in November.

Shin Won-sik made the remarks in an interview with Yonhap News Agency last week.

Seoul military officials believe Pyongyang’s solid-fuel IRBM under development is capable of targeting US military bases in Japan and Guam.

IRBMs have a range to fly between 3,000-5,500 kilometers, according to Yonhap News report.

Located approximately 3,000 kilometres southeast of North Korea, Guam hosts key US naval and air force bases.

In 2021, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to develop a hypersonic warhead and other high-tech weapons as part of Pyongyang’s key military projects.

In January 2022, North Korea said it had successfully launched hypersonic missiles. Pyongyang’s announcement came three months after it first test-fired the new weapons system, called a Hwasong-8 missile.

South Korea’s Defence Ministry rejected North Korea’s claim regarding the launch, calling it “exaggerated.”

Last week, Kim Jong-un said he had no intention of avoiding war with South Korea and threatened to annihilate the South if Seoul tried to use force against Pyongyang, the report said.