North Korea has successfully tested newly developed solid-fuel engines for the country’s intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs), the state-run KCNA news agency has reported. The newly developed engines have undergone initial trials and have proved to be reliable.
Pyongyang has intensified its missile and nuclear programs in recent years, claiming that it needs the weapons to deter potential aggression by the US and its regional allies. The country bolstered its arsenal, citing a possible threat from the US and its neighbors.
North Korean IRBMs have a range of up to 5,500km (3,418 miles), which could potentially reach the US territory of Guam in the Pacific Ocean. Solid-fuel missiles don’t require as long to prepare for launch compared to liquid-fueled missiles, therefore giving less time for adversaries to detect them.
KCNA reported on Wednesday that North Korea’s missile industry has developed new-type high-thrust solid-fuel engines for intermediate-range ballistic missiles, describing the development as having “important strategic significance.” The new technology will enhance the country’s strategic offensive capabilities.
Initial ground tests of the first- and second-stage engines took place on November 11 and 14, respectively, and the trials have reportedly confirmed the reliability of the new equipment, paving the way for the development of a new-type IRBM system.
According to KCNA, the North Korean leadership has tasked the country’s missile industry with improving existing IRBMs as well as the longer-range Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile. The recent solid-fuel engine tests represented an important step in enhancing the strategic offensive capabilities of the DPRK’s armed forces due to the grave and unstable security environment facing the country.
On Thursday, KCNA quoted a military spokesperson as announcing that Pyongyang would develop “more offensive and overwhelming response capabilities” and pursue “visible strategic deterrent military actions.” The warning came shortly after the US and South Korea unveiled their own “deterrence strategy” aimed at the DPRK.
Despite numerous UN Security Council resolutions and international sanctions imposed on it, North Korea has been steadily working to enhance its nuclear and missile capabilities in recent years. The country has carried out several cruise missile launches, which came on the back of a nuclear strike drill, and the US, South Korea, and Japan have condemned such tests as provocative.
In September, North Korea carried out multiple cruise missile launches, followed by a nuclear strike drill. The US, South Korea, and Japan have condemned these tests as provocative, while the North insists they are a legitimate response to more frequent and large-scale joint drills held by Washington and Seoul on the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea’s military technology advancements continue to challenge the international community, as the country expands its missile program and other weapons systems. This development has raised additional concerns about the stability and security of the region. North Korea’s ongoing missile tests and nuclear program developments pose a significant challenge to global peace and security and raise concerns about the potential for conflict and instability in the region. The international community will likely respond to these developments with additional diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions. The situation will continue to require close monitoring and diplomatic engagement to address the growing threat posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.