IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

North Korea says it tested massive new intercontinental missile

The U.S. imposed additional sanctions and the U.N. Security Council will convene in response to the launch of the Hwasong-17, Pyongyang’s first full ICBM test since 2017.
Image: Kim Jung Un
In this photo distributed by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, appears to walk around a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile on the launcher, at an undisclosed location on Friday.KCNA/Korea News Service via AP
/ Source: Reuters

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s latest launch was a huge, new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), state media reported on Friday, in a test leader Kim Jong Un said was designed to demonstrate the might of its nuclear force and deter any U.S. military moves.

It was the first full ICBM test by nuclear-armed North Korea since 2017, and flight data indicated the missile flew higher and longer than any of North Korea’s previous tests, before crashing into the sea west of Japan.

Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics 

Dubbed the Hwasong-17, the ICBM is the largest liquid-fueled missile ever launched by any country from a road-mobile launcher, analysts said.

Kim ordered the test because of the “daily-escalating military tension in and around the Korean Peninsula” and the “inevitability of the long-standing confrontation with the U.S. imperialists accompanied by the danger of a nuclear war,” state news agency KCNA reported.

“The strategic forces of the DPRK are fully ready to thoroughly curb and contain any dangerous military attempts of the U.S. imperialists,” Kim said while personally overseeing the launch, according to KCNA. DPRK are the initials of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

North Korea’s return to major weapons tests capable of potentially striking the United States poses a direct challenge to U.S. President Joe Biden as he responds to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And it raises the prospect of a new crisis following the election of a new, conservative South Korean administration that has pledged a more muscular military strategy to counter Pyongyang.

South Korea’s President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, who will speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping later on Friday, said North Korea had nothing to gain from provocation. China is North Korea’s neighbor and sole major ally.

The launch drew condemnation from leaders in the United States, Japan and South Korea.

Responding to North Korea’s banned ICBM launch through the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will be far more difficult now than after the last test in 2017.

Image: FILE PHOTO: General view during the test firing of what state media report is a North Korean "new type" of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)
Images released from the test firing of a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile on March 24, 2022.KCNA / via Reuters

World powers on the council are currently at odds over the Ukraine war, making the kind of sanctions that were imposed on North Korea by the UNSC after the 2017 test a far more complicated process.

The U.N. Security Council will meet publicly at 3 p.m. on Friday to discuss the launch. On Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Pyongyang “to desist from taking any further counterproductive actions.”

On Thursday, the U.S. State Department announced sanctions on two Russian companies, a Russian and a North Korean individual, and North Korea’s Second Academy of Natural Science Foreign Affairs Bureau for transferring sensitive items to North Korea’s missile program.

It named the Russian entities as the Ardis Group of Companies LLC (Ardis Group) and PFK Profpodshipnik LLC, and the Russian individual as Igor Aleksandrovich Michurin. It named the North Korean as Ri Sung Chol.

“These measures are part of our ongoing efforts to impede the DPRK’s ability to advance its missile program and they highlight the negative role Russia plays on the world stage as a proliferator to programs of concern,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Photos released by state media showed a massive missile, painted black with a white nosecone, rising on a column of flame from a launch vehicle.

The Hwasong-17 flew for 1,090 km (681 miles) to a maximum altitude of 6,248.5 km (3,905 miles) and precisely hit a target in the sea, KCNA reported. Those numbers are similar to data reported by Japan and South Korea.

KCNA called the successful test a “striking demonstration of great military muscle,” while Kim said it was a “miraculous” and “priceless” victory by the Korean people.

North Korea first unveiled the previously unseen ICBM at an unprecedented pre-dawn military parade in October 2020, with analysts noting it appeared “considerably larger” than North Korea’s last new ICBM, the Hwasong-15, which was test-fired in November 2017.

It was displayed a second time at a defense exhibition in Pyongyang in October 2021.

Officials in Seoul and Washington have previously said launches on Feb. 27 and March 5 involved parts of the Hwasong-17 ICBM system, likely in preparation for eventually conducting a full test like the one on Thursday.