North Korea forged its last missile launch?

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who oversaw the launch of the country’s most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Thursday, March 24, said he was ready for a “long-term confrontation” with the United States. Following the concerns of neighboring countries and the indignation expressed by the international community, doubts have arisen about the nature of the missile fired.

Washington and Seoul are convinced that the North Korean regime manipulated the launch of its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Thursday, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported on Sunday, March 27. “Allies believe that the Nordics retested a Hwasong-15 ICBM on Thursday, the same type as the one launched in late 2017, according to several sources,” said Yonhap. Hwasong-17 “missile, the latest missile model.

This analysis, derived from intelligence services and satellite data, is based on the appearance of the missile’s rocket engine, precisely on the number of its nozzles, and the firing time of the first phase of the projectile, both characteristics of Hwasong -15 and not Hwasong-17.

Individually, experts have also cast doubt on the North Korean report as they found that the photo taken at the time of the missile launch showed clear skies in Pyongyang while the weather was cloudy in the North Korean capital at the time.

They also noted that many images from the March 24 test do not match satellite images of the launch site.

Are these pictures of the missile test on March 16? This ended in failure, the projectile exploding in the sky over Pyongyang shortly after its launch from Sunan Airport, north of the capital. The regime remains completely silent about this event.

According to analyzes by the Japanese Ministry of Defense, the missile flew for 71 minutes before falling into the exclusive economic zone, in the Sea of ​​Japan, about 150 km west of the Oshima Peninsula, on the northern island of Hokkaido.

“As the ballistic missile this time flew at an altitude of more than 6,000 km, which was much higher than the Hwasong-15 ICBM launched in November 2017, it is believed that today is a new ICBM,” says the head of it Japanese Ministry of Defense. Makoto Oniki said on March 24.

The South Korean military has since downplayed the data, Yonhap said, explaining that the projectile fired last week may very well be a Hwasong-15 with a lighter warhead designed to fly like a longer-range Hwasong-17.

“Monster Missile”

For in fact, the missile fired on Thursday flew higher and longer than any previous ICBM tested by the nuclear-armed country. Which enables it to hit any part of US territory.

First unveiled in October 2020 and dubbed a “monster missile” by analysts, the Hwasong-17 that Pyongyang claims to have fired had never been tested before. And this is in violation of the moratorium on the launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles, which Kim Jong Un had committed to in 2017.

The North Korean leader, who personally oversaw the March 24 trial, is according to footage released in North Korea so proud of it that he ordered the footage of a propaganda clip in which he appears in a military jacket, black leather and dark sunglasses. walk with officers past a giant missile.

The regime has never hidden its priority: to develop an ICBM capable of carrying several conventional or nuclear warheads, each following an independent trajectory that is difficult to intercept by anti-missile systems.

“What matters with (Hwasong-17) is not how far it can travel, but what it can potentially carry, i.e. more warheads,” analyst Ankit Panda told AFP.

UN resolutions prohibit North Korea from heavy international sanctions for its nuclear and armaments programs from conducting ballistic missile tests, which did not prevent Pyongyang from conducting about ten tests of this type since the beginning of the year.

But it was not until now intercontinental missiles, although Washington and Seoul suspect the North Korean regime of having tested certain ICBM systems during these launches.

Hwasong-15 or Hwasong-17, for Kim Jong Un, the message remains the same as summed up by Jeffrey Lewis, of the Middlebury Institute in California, on Twitter : “I will be able to nebulize you if you invade me. Then do not!”.

With AFP

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