North Korea has defended its latest missile test and at the same time announced that it was the test of a Hwasong-17, which experts have described as a "monster missile". The intercontinental ballistic missile flew around a thousand kilometers, the state news agency KCNA reported on Friday. She eventually landed in the targeted zone in the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan. According to state media, North Korea's ruler Kim Jong Un and his daughter attended the test.
The test carried out on Thursday was in response to the current "provocative and aggressive" joint US-South Korean military exercises, KCNA said. He was "a sharpened warning to the enemies who are deliberately stoking tensions on the Korean peninsula". Kim Jong Un stressed the need to "instill fear in the enemy."
South Korea and the US deny North Korea's accusation that their joint maneuvers served as preparations for an attack.
The renewed North Korean missile test was initially reported by the South Korean government on Thursday, but without specifying the model. Now KCNA said it was a Hwasong-17. The ICBM has a potential range that could hit the US mainland. Experts refer to them as "monster rockets". According to Seoul, however, the rocket followed a vertically ascending trajectory - this way it avoided overflying neighboring countries.
The new test took place in the presence of ruler Kim and his daughter, as photos in the official newspaper "Rodong Sinmun" showed. As usual, the daughter's name was not mentioned; according to South Korean intelligence, however, it is Kim's second child, Ju Ae.
The United States and South Korea launched their largest joint military exercises in five years on Monday. They described the 10-day "Freedom Shield" maneuver as a response to the "changed security environment" in the region as a result of North Korea's increased aggression in recent months. Shortly before the start of the exercises and on Tuesday, Pyongyang had already tested several missiles, but none of them Hwasong-17.
The missile is the largest ICBM in its arsenal. Such missiles, which have a range of more than 5,500 kilometers, are considered the most important means of delivering nuclear weapons. Widely isolated North Korea is barred from testing ICBMs and other ballistic missiles by UN decisions.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have escalated significantly since last year. North Korea increased the scope of its missile tests. The US and South Korea resumed full-scale military exercises.