North Korea says it tested solid-fuel hypersonic missile By Reuters

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© Reuters. Ballistic missile, said to be solid-fuel and hypersonic, launches during a test at an unspecified location in North Korea in this picture released by the Korean Central News Agency on January 14, 2024. KCNA via REUTERS

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By Hyunsu Yim

SEOUL (Reuters) -North Korea on Sunday tested a new solid-fuel hypersonic missile with intermediate range, state news agency KNCA reported on Monday, adding it did not pose a security threat to neighbouring countries.

The launch was aimed at testing the reliability of new multi-stage, high-thrust solid-fuel engines and an intermediate-range hypersonic maneuverable controlled warhead, according to KCNA.

The test occurred on the same day that a delegation led by Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui heading to Russia left Pyongyang, KCNA reported.

The missile launch and the visit to Russia come amid growing tensions between the two Koreas following Pyongyang’s series of intercontinental ballistic missile launches and its first military spy satellite, as well as deepening ties between Pyongyang and Moscow that have worried Washington and its allies.

In a separate KCNA commentary on Monday, North Korea accused Seoul of escalating tensions in the region with military drills and armament calls by South Korean officials.

“Even a little spark can be a catalyst for enormous physical conflicts between the two most hostile countries,” the commentary said.

North Korea has recently made changes to designate the South as a separate, enemy state, breaking with decades of policy, with leader Kim Jong Un saying peaceful reunification is no longer possible.

Analysts have said the move could potentially help justify the use of nuclear weapons against Seoul in a future war.

South Korea’s military said Sunday’s missile, launched from the area of Pyongyang at about 2:55 p.m. (0555 GMT), flew about 1,000 km (600 miles) off the country’s east coast. Japan’s defence ministry said the maximum altitude was at least 50 km (30 miles).

Pyongyang had previously said it tested its new solid-fuel engines for an intermediate ballistic missile on Nov. 11 and Nov. 14.

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