The North Korean government said it had test-launched its largest ever nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday, though some analysts said all might not be as it seems.
One thing, however, is clear: The move is heightening tensions between North Korea’s government and the Biden administration, which is already attempting to deal with the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The launch Thursday extended a barrage of weapons demonstrations this year that analysts say are aimed at forcing the United States to accept the idea of North Korea as a nuclear power and remove crippling sanctions against its broken economy,” The Associated Press reported.
Video of the launch released by North Korean state-run media gave off a movie production-type aura.
“State TV dramatized the testing process like a Hollywood movie, showing Kim walking in slow motion in front of his giant missile in sunglasses and a black leather motorcycle jacket,” CBS News reported. “It edited quick cuts that alternately show Kim and other officials staring at their watches before Kim takes off his shades and nods, with the video then showing the missile being rolled out of the hangar.”
The outlet added: “The Hwasong-17, which was fired at a high angle to avoid the territorial waters of neighbors, reached a maximum altitude of 3,880 miles and traveled 680 miles during a 67-minute flight before landing in waters between North Korea and Japan, Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said.”
This North Korean state media video of Kim Jong Un is next level pic.twitter.com/o6Sdds7Bla
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) March 25, 2022
For those wondering, North Korean TV did show the actual Hwasong-17 missile launch as well. pic.twitter.com/cGrpdUre2t
— Shreyas Reddy (@shreyas_k_reddy) March 25, 2022
But at least one South Korean government official thinks it’s possible North Korea didn’t actually test the Hwasong-17 on Thursday.
“A ‘high-level government official’ told South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency that officials in Seoul believe its possible the March 24 test was actually of a Hwasong-15 ICBM, an existing missile type first flight-tested in 2017, with enhancements to the engine thrust in order to achieve their desired range,” Business Insider reported.
It would mean whatever they successfully tested March 24 is being covered up and hidden, maybe forever, even though it was their greatest missile achievement ever.
Or they launched another Hwasong-17 on March 24 but their cameras failed so they used old footage..
— Colin Zwirko (@ColinZwirko) March 25, 2022
Regardless of which missiles were tested and when, it seems clear that North Korea is looking to get the world’s attention — and possible the Biden administration’s attention in particular.
“Some South Korean analysts say the North may feel the need to resume nuclear tests in coming months to get the attention of the Biden administration, which has offered open-ended talks but showed no willingness to concede on sanctions,” Fox News reported.