GP Short Notes

GP Short Notes # 604, 8 January 2022

North Korea: Pyongyang tests its second hypersonic missile
Keerthana Nambiar

What happened?
On 6 January, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the state media, reported North Korea testing of the second 'hypersonic missile' on 5 January. The KCNA stated: "The successive successes in the test launches in the hypersonic missile sector have strategic significance in that they hasten a task for modernizing the strategic armed force of the state." 

It read: "The missile made a 120 kilometres lateral movement in the flight distance of the hypersonic gliding warhead from the initial launch azimuth to the target azimuth and precisely hit a set target 700 kilometres away." KCNA confirmed the details of the test such as the ability of operation in the winter season and flight control. In addition, the missile demonstrated its ability to combine "multi-step glide jump flight and strong lateral manoeuvring." 

On 5 January, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said: "Since last year, North Korea has repeatedly launched missiles, which is very regrettable." South Korea's National Security Council convened an emergency meeting addressing the concern on the launch. 

What is the background?
First, North Korea's hypersonic missile tests. In September 2021, North Korea launched its first hypersonic boost-glide vehicle called Hwasong-8. The missile flew 200 kilometres at an altitude of 60 kilometres. The Hwasong-8 has a fuel ampoule technology that permits liquid-fueled missiles to be filled during the production process and can be stored in airtight canisters, making them ready for launch. KCNA refrained from reporting the launch of the missile; thus, the payload and the intensity of the hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) remain unknown. North Korea is visibly interested in developing liquid-propellant missiles which are more energetic than solid-propellant. 

Second, a brief background to the North Korean missiles. North Korea is increasing the nuclear weapons stockpile. It has tested more than a hundred missiles, including ballistic missiles starting from short to medium, intermediate, long, intercontinental, submarine-launched and hypersonic missiles. Hwasong-15, the largest and the most powerful ballistic missile, was launched in 2017. It is a liquid-fueled intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM) with a trajectory of 950 kilometres with a potential range of 13,000 kilometres. 

Third, North Korea's political objectives. North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un justifies nuclear weapons as a shield from the US' hostile policy, solidifying the authoritarian regime. Initially, it was considered to be either a capacity-building technique or a bargaining chip for economic and diplomatic benefits. However, today, North Korea is seeking sufficient nuclear weapons for deterrence from the US. 

Fourth, the global concerns. The US, Japan and South Korea have been wary of North Korea's repeated deployment of weapons due to the geographic proximity. The UK and Germany have consistently urged Pyongyang to resume negotiations and strongly condemned the recent test launches. 

What does this mean?
First, Pyongyang's lack of interest in rejoining denuclearization talks. For a country that is struggling with food shortages and economic crisis, North Korea shows no signs of resurrecting the long-stalled talks with the US. Despite the UNSC resolutions banning nuclear missile tests, Pyongyang continues to develop and test weapons. North Korea wishes to deliver a clear message to the US that the regime will not succumb to the idea of reunification of the Korean peninsula and allow US intervention like in Iraq and Libya. 

Second, the North Korean upper hand. Pyongyang has been pushing for the development of nuclear weapons with ICBMs as its priority. The North here gains supremacy over South Korea, paralyzing Seoul's defense posture and strategic planning. In a broader aperture, South Korea walks on a tightrope and questions the sustainability of South Korea's strategic ambiguity. 

30 October 2022 | GP Short Notes # 681
Putin's address in the Valdai Club" Four Takeaways
30 October 2022 | GP Short Notes # 680
Elon Musk's Twitter deal
23 October 2022 | GP Short Notes # 679
The UK: Liz Truss' resignation spins political chaos

16 October 2022 | GP Short Notes # 677
UN deems Russia’s referendums illegal
13 October 2022 | GP Short Notes # 676
China: UNHRC proceeding on Xinjiang
9 October 2022 | GP Short Notes # 675
Trade and Statistics Outlook 2022-23: Four takeaways

9 October 2022 | GP Short Notes # 674
OPEC: The curious case of OPEC's production cuts
9 October 2022 | GP Short Notes # 672
Reducing Inequality Index 2022: Three Takeaways
2 October 2022 | GP Short Notes # 665
The new DART Mission: A new era of planetary defence
29 September 2022 | GP Short Notes # 669
Iran: Protests spark against hijab rules
25 September 2022 | GP Short Notes # 664
Putin and Russia's New Ukraine Strategy

22 September 2022 | GP Short Notes # 668
EU's food waste 2022: Three takeaways
18 September 2022 | GP Short Notes # 663
Sweden: 2022 elections reflect political polarization
18 September 2022 | GP Short Notes # 662
SCO Summit 2022: Who said what

16 September 2022 | GP Short Notes # 666
Global Estimates of Modern Slavery 2021: Six takeaw
16 September 2022 | GP Short Notes # 665
North Korea: New legislation hinders denuclearization talks
16 September 2022 | GP Short Notes # 664
Ukraine: Counteroffensive in Kharkiv and Kherson
11 September 2022 | GP Short Notes # 661
Bangladesh: Sheikh Hasina’s State visit to India

11 September 2022 | GP Short Notes # 659
Russia: Military exercise Vostok 2022
8 September 2022 | GP Short Notes # 658
The UN report on Xinjiang: Four Takeaways
1 September 2022 | GP Short Notes # 656
Iraq-Al-Sadr Withdraws, Protests Intensify
7 August 2022 | GP Short Notes # 653
Sri Lanka starts bailout talks with IMF

31 July 2022 | GP Short Notes # 651
Tunisia: Referendum paves the way for one-man rule
24 July 2022 | GP Short Notes # 649
Putin’s meeting with Khamenei and Erdogan

17 July 2022 | GP Short Notes # 648
Elon Musk Versus: 'Twas a troll after all
3 July 2022 | GP Short Notes # 643
NATO 2022 Strategic Concept: Four takeaways
26 June 2022 | GP Short Notes # 639
Saudi Arabia: Rapprochement with Turkey
26 June 2022 | GP Short Notes # 638
Europe: Approving Ukraine's candidature for the EU
8 May 2022 | GP Short Notes # 635
EU: New sanctions on Russia
24 April 2022 | GP Short Notes # 631
Russia: New nuclear-capable ICBM test
17 April 2022 | GP Short Notes # 629
Elon Musk and the battle for Twitter

10 April 2022 | GP Short Notes # 627
New actions and sanctions on Russia
28 March 2022 | GP Short Notes # 625
Europe: The new focus on defence

28 March 2022 | GP Short Notes # 624
The G7 Summit: Focus on Russia and Ukraine’s defence
20 March 2022 | GP Short Notes # 622
China: A careful strategy on Russia and Ukraine
13 March 2022 | GP Short Notes # 620
China: Fifth Session of the 13th NPC
13 March 2022 | GP Short Notes # 619
Ukraine: The Versailles declaration of the EU leaders
6 March 2022 | GP Short Notes # 617
Sanctions against Russia: Effects and Divides

12 February 2022 | GP Short Notes # 614
Quad summit in Australia: Focus on the Indo-Pacific 
12 February 2022 | GP Short Notes # 613
The One Ocean Summit: A framework toward conservation

5 February 2022 | GP Short Notes # 612
Escalation and de-escalation in the Ukraine crisis
29 January 2022 | GP Short Notes # 610
The Normandy Format: Europe, Russia and Ukraine
15 January 2022 | GP Short Notes # 609
Mali: Tensions escalate as ECOWAS imposes sanctions

15 January 2022 | GP Short Notes # 608
Kazakhstan: Russia, China and the protests
15 January 2022 | GP Short Notes # 606
India, China 14th round of military talks in Ladakh
8 January 2022 | GP Short Notes # 605
The US: Remembering 6 January


Click below links for year wise archive
2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018

Click here for old Short Notes