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Pyongyang test-fired new Hwasongpho-18 ICBM

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Pyongyang: North Korea tested a new Hwasongpho-18 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported on Friday.

Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Friday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guided the first test-fire of the new-type Hwasongpho-18 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile. According to the report, the launch aimed to confirm the performance of the high-thrust solid-fuel engines for multi-stage missiles and the reliability of other systems. The North Korean leader noted that the latest launch will allow Pyongyang “to steadily and rapidly accelerate the development of more developed and advanced powerful weapon system to cope with the ever-worsening security environment of the Korean peninsula and long-term military threats,” and the development of the missile “will extensively reform the strategic deterrence components” of North Korea, as well as “radically promote the effectiveness of its nuclear counterattack posture and bring about a change in the practicality of its offensive military strategy.”

Kim highly praised members of the national defense scientific research field, involved in the development of the new missile, proposed conferring the title of Labor Hero of North Korea to over 10 military officials, and promoted Colonel Han Kum Bok, the vice-director of the General Missile Bureau, to the rank of major general, the report said.

North Korea launched an unspecified ballistic missile toward the Sea of Japan that flew about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) and landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone on Thursday. The launch prompted the Japanese authorities to issue an evacuation order for the residents of Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, which reportedly led to the temporary suspension of high-speed trains and road transport in the north of the country.

Japan has filed a protest against North Korea through its embassy in Beijing, noting that such actions are a threat to global peace and security, according to Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno.

The launch came amid a halt in cross-border communication between the two Koreas. Since April 7, the North has stopped responding to regular calls from the South through inter-Korean communication channels, including the military and the unification ministry lines.

Thursday’s North Korean missile firing marked the ninth launch this year. Last year, Pyongyang launched 37 ballistic missiles.

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