“The 1st Heroic Red Flag Company launched a Hwasong-15 missile at a high angle at Pyongyang International Airport on the afternoon of February 18,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on February 19. “The missile reached a maximum altitude of 5,768.5 km and flew a distance of 989 km in 4,015 seconds before accurately hitting the specified position in the eastern sea.”
KCNA said the launch of the Hwasong-15 was part of a surprise drill ordered by leader Kim Jong-un to “confirm the reliability of the system and the combat readiness of the North Korean nuclear force,” as well as “ensure the precise operation,” responsiveness, reliability, effectiveness and combat capability of the national nuclear deterrent.”
The North Korean military held a surprise drill and launched the Hwasong-15 missile “in the context of the military threats from the US and South Korea becoming so serious that they cannot be underestimated,” KCNA said.
Before North Korea’s statement, South Korea said Pyongyang launched a long-range ballistic missile into the eastern sea on the afternoon of February 18.
Japan said the missile flew for 66 minutes and landed in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Tokyo says the missile is capable of flying 14,000 km, meaning it can reach the United States.
It was North Korea’s first ICBM launch in seven weeks. It comes a day after North Korea warned of an “unprecedented long and strong response” in response to the United States and South Korea holding annual military drills under the pretext of dealing with nuclear and missile threats Growing missiles from North Korea.
Leader Kim Jong-un declared North Korea an “irreversible” nuclear state last year and conducts weapons tests almost every month, including launching the most advanced ICBM.
Kim Jong-un in January demanded an “exponential” increase in production speed for the mass production of tactical nuclear weapons and ordered the defense industry to build a new generation of ICBMs to respond quickly.
South Korea, on February 16, released a defense white paper for 2022, calling North Korea an “enemy” for the first time in six years, signaling a tougher stance against Pyongyang.
According to the white paper, North Korea committed 15 hostile acts last year, violating the 2018 inter-Korean military treaty. The actions were listed as deploying drones to infiltrate South Korean airspace last year. December, shelling the military buffer zone and launching missiles across the border in November.