Hypersonic missiles: a new rocket race

Displaying serious defiance once again, North Korea on Tuesday test-fired its third (and second within a week) hypersonic missile, and on Wednesday the front page of its national daily Rodong Sinmun showed Kim Jong Un attending the event and urging scientists to “further accelerate the efforts to steadily build up the country’s strategic military muscle in both quality and quantity.”

What makes this intriguing is that after a 17-month hiatus since the two Trump-Kim summits during 2018 and 2019, North Korea test-fired more than a dozen missiles, but Kim had stopped publicly appearing at such events since March 2020.

This is partly explained as the result of nuclear and missile tests by North Korea being banned under successive United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions that not only imposed severe sanctions on pandemic-stricken Pyongyang but authorized all UN member states to interdict and inspect suspect North Korean cargo within their respective territories.

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