A man walks past a television screen showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul on April 13, 2023InternationalIndiaAfricaOleg BurunovThe missile was test-fired amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, with the US and North Korea engaged in a long-standing impasse over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. North Korea made headlines once again as it successfully tested their newest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), dubbed the Hwasong-18.Claimed to be their most powerful to date, the missile is expected to bolster the country’s military capabilities and pose a serious threat to its adversaries. So what is the Hwasong-18? Sputnik gives readers the details.
‘New Type’ of ICBM
North Korea’s state-run media reported that “a new type” of ICBM had been test fired as “the key means” of the country’s “strategic military force”, touting the test as a “miraculous success”.The media described the Hwasong-18 as a three-stage solid-fuel missile, with the first stage tested at a standard ballistic trajectory and the others programmed to fly at higher angles after separation to avoid falling on the territory of North Korea’s immediate neighbors.
As compared to liquid-propelled variants, an ICBM with built-in solid propellants would be easier to move and faster to deploy and fire (from land or submarines), reducing the opportunities for opponents to detect and destroy such a missile in a pre-emptive strike.
While the Hwasong-18’s maximum range has not been officially disclosed, some media reports suggested it appeared to have been up to 12,800 km (8,000 miles), which puts almost every major city in the world within its striking range, raising concerns about North Korea’s intentions and the possibility of a global conflict.A South Korean news outlet, however, put the Hwasong-18’s range at less than 3,000 km (1,860 miles) – far below the range of North Korean ICBMs launched in the past, which topped 6,000 km (3,700 miles). What’s more, the new missile’s predecessor, the liquid-fuelled Hwasong-17, which was tested in March, has an operational range of a whopping 15,000 km (9,300 miles) – far enough to reach the US mainland.South Korea’s Defense Ministry, meanwhile, dubbed Hwasong-18′s flight a “mid-phase test”, arguing that North Korea would need more time and effort to complete the system. In other words, it remains unclear how close Pyongyang is to having a functional solid-fuel ICBM capable of striking the US mainland.The test came as Washington and Pyongyang remain at loggerheads over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The last several months have seen North Korea conduct a series of missile tests, despite condemnation from the international community and the imposition of harsh economic sanctions.