North Korea’s ICBM family
April 14, 2023 - North Korea has tested a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time. Leader Kim Jong-un says the Hwasong-18 is the most potent weapon in his nuclear arsenal.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released photos of Kim watching the launch alongside his wife, sister, and daughter. KCNA issued the report a day after the country’s neighbours detected a long-range missile launch near Pyongyang.
Kim pledged to further expand his nuclear arsenal to “constantly strike extreme uneasiness and horror” in his rivals and make them feel regret for their wrong choices.
North Korea has tested 10 ICBMs since 2017, with potential ranges to reach the U.S. mainland.
Solid-fuel missiles have a crucial advantage over liquid-fuel missiles in being fuelled at the point of manufacture. They allow operators to maintain a high state of readiness and the potential to launch within minutes.
Ankit Panda, an expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the latest test was a “significant breakthrough for the North Koreans, but not an unexpected one.”
“The primary significance of solid-fuel ICBMs is in terms of what they’ll do for the survivability of North Korea’s overall ICBM force,” he said.
Former CIA analyst, Soo Kim, said each successive test by North Korea “seems to demonstrate greater options for the regime to provoke and threaten the region.”