North Korea’s recent test of an advanced solid-fueled ballistic missile has raised concerns among its adversaries. The launch comes just days after North Korea threatened to shoot down US military reconnaissance planes in the region. The Hwasong-18, a powerful solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), was fired and flew approximately 1,000 kilometers, staying airborne for 74 minutes. This test, along with previous launches, has sparked alarm as North Korea intensifies its efforts to develop weapons capable of potentially striking major US cities.
The Hwasong-17, unveiled in 2022, is a liquid-fueled ICBM that showcased North Korea’s ability to master liquid-fuel technology. In contrast, the Hwasong-18 is a solid-fueled missile, making it more advanced and allowing for quicker long-range nuclear strikes. Solid-fueled ICBMs are more stable and can be moved more easily to avoid detection before launch, providing a potential advantage over liquid-fueled missiles.
While ICBMs theoretically have the capability to reach the entire US mainland, there are still uncertainties regarding North Korea’s ability to deliver a nuclear payload accurately. Previous tests have shown the potential range of North Korea’s missiles, but without information on the payloads involved, the missile’s true capabilities remain unknown. Additionally, the survival of a North Korean nuclear warhead during reentry into Earth’s atmosphere is another question mark.
North Korea’s missile program continues to advance, with Kim Jong Un aiming to develop a credible nuclear deterrent. The country has set ambitious goals for its missile program, including enhancing accuracy and increasing the range up to 15,000 kilometers. The frequency and intensity of weapons testing have increased in recent years, signaling North Korea’s determination to achieve its nuclear objectives.
The international community has strongly condemned North Korea’s missile tests. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol called for “strong international solidarity” among NATO members in response to the launch. US and South Korean officials are analyzing the test, and Japan has lodged a protest through embassy channels in Beijing. The United Nations Security Council has previously passed resolutions prohibiting ballistic missile testing by North Korea, but the blocking of new resolutions by China and Russia has raised concerns about the continuation of North Korea’s programs.
As North Korea’s missile program progresses, further tests are expected to verify the reliability and operation of its ICBMs. The situation remains tense, with potential implications for regional stability and international security.