North Korea on Thursday confirmed that it test-fired a Hwasong-18 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) the previous day, with its leader Kim Jong-un vowing to take "stronger" military offensive until the US abandons its hostile policy against Pyongyang.
Guided by Kim, the North launched a new type of the Hwasong-18 missile in a test aimed at reconfirming the technical creditability and operational reliability of the country's core weapon system, according to Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
It marked the North's second solid-propellant ICBM launch following its first test-firing on April 13,reports Yonhap News Agency.A solid-fuel ICBM is one of the high-tech weapon systems that the recalcitrant regime has vowed to develop, along with a military spy satellite and a nuclear-powered submarine.
Solid-fuel missiles are known to be harder to detect ahead of launch than liquid-propellant ones, which require more prelaunch preparations, such as the injection of fuel.
The North said the Hwasong-18 flew 1,001.2 km for 4,491 seconds at a maximum altitude of 6,648.4 km, before accurately landing on a pre-set area in the East Sea.
Its flight time was the longest ever for a North Korean ICBM, and if fired on a standard trajectory, the missile could have flown more than 15,000 km, a capability that would put the whole of the U.S. mainland within range, according to experts.
"The test-fire is an essential process aimed at further developing the strategic nuclear force of the Republic and, at the same time, serves as a strong practical warning to clearly show the adversaries of the DPRK," the KCNA said, using the acronym of the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The missile test came as North Korea issued stern statements earlier this week condemning US surveillance flights over its "economic water zone", threatening to shoot down American spy planes in case of a "repeated illegal intrusion".
The North's latest saber-rattling followed its botched launch of a space rocket carrying its first military reconnaissance satellite in late May.
The rocket crashed into the Yellow Sea after an "abnormal starting" of the second-stage engine, according to the North's state media.