North Korea unveils Pukguksong-6 apparent new missile alongside Hwasong-17 during military parade
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his will to bolster his nuclear forces at "maximum speed" and threatened to use them if provoked in a speech he delivered during a military parade on Monday, April 25, which marked the 90th anniversary of North Korea's army. This parade featured powerful weapons systems targeting the United States and its allies, state media reported on April 26, the day following the parade.
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North Korea’s April 25 military parade included the country’s largest-known ICBM: the Hwasong-17 (Picture source: KCNA)
North Korea's biggest, newly built intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-17 has been test-fired last March in its first full-range ICBM liftoff in more than four years, the country claims. South Korea disputed that, saying Pyongyang launched a smaller, existing Hwasong-15 ICBM following a failed launch of the Hwasong-17. Despite the outside doubts, the missile fired on March 24 flew longer and higher than any other missile North Korea has launched, demonstrating the potential ability to reach deep into the U.S. mainland. "If any forces try to violate the fundamental interests of our state, our nuclear forces will have to decisively accomplish its unexpected second mission," which would leave any invading force "perished", Kim Jong Un said.
According to Chaewon Chung and Jeongmin Kim in NK News, North Korea rolled out what appeared to be a new type of solid fuel missile alongside the country’s largest-known intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The new missile seemed to be a variation of North Korea’s Pukguksong solid-fueled missile series, analysts told NK News.
The new missile looked very similar in size to the Pukguksong-5 and Pukguksong-4, two types within the Pukguksong series that have yet to be test-fired by North Korea, Chaewon Chung and Jeongmin Kim wrote in NK News.
The country last launched the Pukguksong-3 in Oct. 2019, and an unnamed submarine ballistic missile (SLBM) in Oct. 2021. Kim Jong Un wants solid-fuel ICBMs as part of his Eighth Party Congress modernization agenda.
North Korea has conducted 13 rounds of weapons tests this year, including its claimed launch of the Hwasong-17. There are also signs North Korea is rebuilding tunnels at a nuclear testing ground that was last active in 2017, possibly in preparation for exploding a nuclear device, CBS News reports.
Hwasong-8 hypersonic glide vehicle (Picture source: KCNA)
Hwasong-15 ICBM during the April 15 parade (Picture source: KCNA)