North Korea successfully test-launched its Hwasong-18 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) on Wednesday for a second time, as state media repeated warnings the region is on the “brink of a nuclear war.”
The United Nations Security Council, which has passed resolutions banning Pyongyang’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons program, is slated to meet Thursday to discuss the missile launch.
The Hwasong-18 has an operational range of 13,000 kilometers. It appears to have landed in Russia’s exclusive economic zone, according to NK News.
— NK NEWS (@nknewsorg) July 13, 2023
The missile, intended to be the “core” of North Korea’s nuclear strike force, reached an altitude of 6,648.4 kilometers and flew a distance of 1,001.2 kilometers in 74 minutes, according to Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno. It was the longest flight ever of a North Korean missile.
Photos published by the Rodong Sinmun on Thursday showed the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, guiding the launch from a private mansion in Pyongyang, as he did during the first launch of the missile in April.
North Korean state media said the launch should “deter the dangerous military moves of the hostile forces,” a reference to military exercises held in the area by the United States and South Korea.
Kim said his country will continue to take military offensive measures until the United States “abandons its hostile policy.”
A Threat to Israel
North Korean military aspirations are not just a threat to the United States, South Korea, and Japan.
Pyongyang — already a nuclear power — is a strong ally of Iran, which is working hard to achieve its own nuclear weapon.
The two allies have long pooled their resources and shared their knowledge, increasing the threat to Israel and the West.
The relationship between Iran and North Korea, which dates to 1979, is particularly focused on cooperation in their ballistic missile and nuclear development programs.
The two countries exchange knowledge and technology on a regular basis, as well as other resources: Iran offers oil, and North Korea provides military expertise and hardware.
According to the Congressional Research Service, “Iran has developed a close working relationship with North Korea on many ballistic missile programs,” providing Iran “a qualitative increase in [ballistic missile] capabilities” and advancing Iran toward its “goal of self-sufficiency in the production of medium-range ballistic missiles.”
According to the 2018 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community, “North Korea’s history of exporting ballistic missile technology to several countries, including Iran and Syria, and its assistance during Syria’s construction of a nuclear reactor— destroyed in 2007—illustrate its willingness to proliferate dangerous technologies.”
The Syrian nuclear reactor site, built with assistance from North Korea, was bombed by the Israel Air Force, which destroyed the budding threat to the region.
But the reality remains that Iran’s frequent threats to annihilate the State of Israel could someday be realized with assistance from North Korea.
Wednesday’s launch of the Hwasong-18 was condemned by the United States, South Korea, Japan, and others.
A statement released in response by the White House National Security Council (NSC) said the launch “raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region,” adding that North Korea “must immediately cease its destabilizing actions and instead choose diplomatic engagement.”
The statement went on the declare that the launch “demonstrates that the DPRK continues to prioritize its unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs over the well-being of its people.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on North Korea to comply with UN sanction resolutions that outlaw its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.
Pyongyang, a strong ally of Iran, has long rejected – or ignored – the resolutions.