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North Korea confirms the launch of an intercontinental missile


North Korea confirmed on Friday March 17 that it had launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) the day before, the second this year, a test personally supervised by leader Kim Jong-un and his daughter.

The missile launched towards the Sea of ​​Japan on Thursday was a Hwasong-17, the official KCNA news agency said, adding that the launch was a response to military exercises. “frantic” American-South Korean.

Photos published by the official daily Rodong Sinmun show Kim Jong-un using binoculars and watching the black and white projectile shoot up into the sky. The footage also shows Mr Kim alongside his daughter – never named by state media but identified as his second child, Ju-ae, by South Korean intelligence – examining photographs showing the Earth from space, allegedly taken by a camera mounted on the missile.

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Lobed trajectory

The shot “confirms the war readiness of the ICBM unit”KCNA claimed, adding that the launch “had no negative impact on the security of neighboring countries”. The South Korean army had previously explained that the missile had followed a lobed trajectory, typically chosen to avoid flying over other countries.

At Thursday’s launch, Kim said the North “will react to nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons”and called for “irreversibly strengthen nuclear deterrence”, according to KCNA. The country’s top leader also praised the “northern rapid reaction capability (…) to face any armed conflict and any war..

North Korea has declared itself a nuclear power “irreversible” last year, and Mr. Kim recently called for an increase “exponential” of the production of weapons, including tactical nuclear weapons.

nicknamed the “monster missile” by military analysts, the Hwasong-17 theoretically has sufficient range to reach the mainland United States.

Can hit any desired target

With this latest launch, North Korea is trying to underline the advancement of its armaments, analysts say. “With the photos of Earth, Pyongyang seems to want to show that it can precisely hit any target the regime wants with its ICBM”, explained to Agence France-Presse (AFP) Cheong Seong-chang, of the Sejong Institute. According to him, the next step could be the firing of a missile “at a normal angle”to demonstrate its ability to survive re-entry into the atmosphere.

Read also: North Korea wants to step up its “real war simulation exercises”

The ICBM launch, preceded by several other missile launches since Sunday, came on the day of a visit to Japan by South Korean President Yoon Seok-youl, and as Seoul and Washington are currently holding their biggest military drills spouses in five years.

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baptized Freedom Shield, these exercises began on Monday and are to last ten days. They focus on “the evolution of the security environment” due to the redoubled aggressiveness of North Korea, the allies said. North Korea regards these maneuvers as rehearsals for an invasion of its territory or an overthrow of its regime.

“The fact that North Korea has almost normalized intercontinental ballistic missile testing over the past year is concerning”Joseph Dempsey, a researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told AFP.

For Soo Kim, former CIA analyst for Korea, the regime of Kim Jong-un “essentially desensitized the international community to his weapons testing”. “We have reached a point where an intercontinental ballistic missile test does not attract more attention than a short-range missile test”she said. “We will continue to see North Korea progress and expand its range of weapons capabilities in the days ahead. »

The World with AFP