Debris from a failed North Korean missile test allegedly fell on the capital, Pyongyang

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects a new complex in Pyongyang, in an undated photo released Wednesday by the official news agency.AFP photo

According to the military leadership of neighboring South Korea, the projectile, which is believed to be a ballistic missile, appeared to have exploded less than 20 kilometers after it was launched from the Sinan airport. Debris would have fallen in and around the outskirts of Pyongyang, the capital seventeen kilometers from the airport where more than 3 million people live. South Korean specialist news website NK News reported that eyewitnesses saw a red ball at the end of a plume of smoke zigzagging above the city.

In a previous failed medium-range missile test at another location, a missile also landed in a densely populated area in 2017. Rocket fuel can also cause significant health damage.

Two birds with one stone

Missiles were launched from Sinan airport in February and March of this year. According to North Korea, these are harmless tests of its own space satellite, but defense sources in South Korea and America are still conducting trials of a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may be killing two birds with one stone by testing so-called “reconnaissance satellites”: his wish list includes both his spy satellite and a better ICBM, and launches contribute to both. military ambitions. North Korea has successfully tested an ICBM capable of reaching the United States since 2017, but this year Kim broke all records with 10 launches.

After North Korea’s Politburo announced in January that North Korea would suspend its voluntary ban on nuclear and ICBM tests, the United States and South Korea are considering testing the country’s newest and largest ICBM. This so-called Hwasong-17, a monster missile with a length of 25 meters that can travel with multiple warheads and a distance of 15,000 km, was first seen during a military parade in 2020, but has not yet been fully tested.

important birthday

Trials over the past few months, potentially testing parts of Hwasong-17, could be preparations for a larger test, scheduled for April 15. This is the 110th birthday of Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the first member of the Kim dynasty to found the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. So South Korean experts expect some smaller trials to be ready to test Hwasong-17 in the run-up to that important anniversary.

In addition to commemorating his grandfather with a new type of ICBM, Kim is also keen to draw attention to the South Korean president elected last week. Yoon Seok Yeol But especially the US government, which until now has been ignoring it. Negotiation process about formal peace treaty The Korean peninsula is at a standstill, as are efforts under the Trump administration to get Kim to give up his nuclear weapons. Pyongyang insists that US sanctions must be lifted before North Korea comes to the negotiating table, while the US wants to see verifiable signs of dismantling its nuclear program first.

Airport as a test base

On Wednesday, the official Korean Central News Agency released a photo of Kim Jong-un smiling widely in a suburb of Pyongyang. It is unclear if that photo is related to the latest missile test. Since 2017, Sinan Airport, which was used for a few flights from Russia and China even before the pandemic, has played an increasingly prominent role in testing major weapons systems. In 2016, a building was erected next to the airport, according to defense specialists, large enough to house an ICBM. The predecessor of the Hwasong-17 monster missile was also tested at Sinan Airport.

Analysts believe that Kim will develop, store and test his most valuable weapons systems near the capital so that he can check progress without having to make travel arrangements with complex security measures that attract the attention of foreign observers.

By the way, earlier this month, the main Punggye-Ri nuclear test facility, which was partially blown up in front of the international press in 2018 to convince the world of Kim’s promise to stop nuclear testing, was said to have been revived with reconstruction and new. construction of buildings. In August last year, the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency said the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, where North Korea had been producing plutonium, appeared to be operational.

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