South Korea disputes North's claim of hypersonic missile test
- South Korea
South Korea dismissed North Korea's claim to have recently launched a hypersonic missile as an exaggeration on Friday, saying it was a normal ballistic missile that could be intercepted.
It said South Korean and US forces could shoot it down.
The ministry said North Korea's claim that the weapon flew 700 kilometres and maneuvered laterally appeared to be an exaggeration.
Ministry officials said the claim was likely aimed at a domestic audience to boost public confidence in its missile program.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been calling for greater unity and improved weapons development in the face of pandemic-related difficulties. He has refused to return to disarmament talks with Washington and Seoul while maintaining tough anti-virus restrictions.
The UN Security Council scheduled closed consultations on the North Korean launch on Monday afternoon and diplomats said members will receive receive a briefing from Assistant-Secretary-General Khaled Khiari.
Wednesday's launch was North Korea's second claimed hypersonic missile test. Its state media said the missile made a 120-kilometre lateral movement before precisely hitting a target 700 kilometres away, and that the test confirmed the weapon's flight control and stability.
Hypersonic weapons, which fly at speeds in excess of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, could pose a crucial challenge to missile defense systems because of their speed and maneuverability.
The weapon was on a wish-list of sophisticated military assets that Kim unveiled early last year along with multi-warhead missiles, spy satellites, solid-fuelled long-range missiles and underwater-launched nuclear missiles.
In September, North Korea said it had conducted its first flight test of a hypersonic missile.
South Korea's military earlier said the missile tested in September was at an early stage of development and that the country would need considerable time to deploy it operationally.
Photos show that the upper parts of the missiles launched in September and this week have different shapes.
That suggests that North Korea might have tested two versions of warheads for a missile still under development or is actually developing two different types of missiles, according to Lee Choon Geun, honorary research fellow at South Korea's Science and Technology Policy Institute.
South Korea's current liberal government has been pushing hard to improve ties with North Korea. But its appeasement policy has made little progress since a broader nuclear diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington collapsed in 2019.
South Korea is to elect a new president in March.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)