Wednesday's missile launch was the second such test as Pyongyang pursues new military capabilities amid stalled denuclearisation talks

The launch was the second reported test of what Pyongyang claimed were hypersonic gliding missiles.
The launch was the second reported test of what Pyongyang claimed were hypersonic gliding missiles. (AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS)

North Korea has successfully tested a hypersonic missile, in the first major weapons test by the nuclear-armed nation this year.

The missile fired on Wednesday carried a "hypersonic gliding warhead" that "precisely hit a target 700km away", the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Thursday, without identifying the launcher.

"The successive successes in the test launches in the hypersonic missile sector have strategic significance," KCNA said.

The warhead also demonstrated a "new" capability, moving 120km laterally after it detached from the launcher to strike the target, it added.

This was the second reported test of what Pyongyang claimed were hypersonic gliding missiles, as it pursues the sophisticated technology despite international sanctions and condemnation.

Hypersonic missiles move far faster and are more agile than standard ones, making them much harder for missile defence systems, on which the United States is spending billions, to intercept.

Hypersonic missiles were listed among the "top priority" tasks for strategic weapons in North Korea's current five-year plan, and it announced its first test of the Hwasong-8 in September last year.

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Growing arsenal and condemnation

Depending on their design, hypersonic missiles can carry conventional and nuclear warheads, and have the potential to alter the strategic balance. They are generally defined as travelling more than five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5.

In 2021, in addition to the hypersonic Hwasong-8, Pyongyang said it successfully tested a new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile, a long-range cruise missile, and a train-launched weapon.

The United States, Japan and Canada condemned Wednesday's test.

"This launch is in violation of multiple UN Security Council Resolutions and poses a threat to the DPRK's neighbours and the international community," a US State Department spokesperson said, using the official name of North Korea.

Dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang remains stalled, following the collapse of talks between Kim and then US president Donald Trump in 2019.

Under Trump's successor Joe Biden, the United States has repeatedly declared its willingness to meet North Korean representatives, while saying it will seek denuclearisation.

But Pyongyang has so far dismissed the offer, accusing Washington of pursuing "hostile" policies. North Korea says it needs its arsenal to defend against a US invasion.

READ MORE: US offers 'sustained, substantive talks' to North Korea

Source: TRTWorld and agencies