MOSCOW, January 12. /TASS/. North Korea’s claims it has successfully tested a hypersonic weapon are rather an information and political move than a confirmation of a real achievement, the general director of the Bureau of Military and Political Analysis, Alexander Mikhailov, has told TASS.
“North Korea’s claims it has tested a hypersonic weapon, and not some item flying at hypersonic speeds, bear a heavy political imprint,” Mikhailov said.
He explained that North Korea’s statements were made against a background of rivalry among three large countries for the right to be called hypersonic powers.
“The front-runner in the hypersonic race is Russia, with China firmly holding second place. There have been objective confirmations that such tests are going well. China has declared it has successfully tested at least two hypersonic vehicles. As for the United States, the situation is a little bit more complex there. The official presentation of a hypersonic vehicle has been postponed for the time being,” the expert said.
Mikhailov believes that North Korea’s statements are not very close to reality.
“Naturally, we can see North Korea’s efforts to demonstrate its missile technologies. Using ballistic missiles, they do accelerate some items to speeds above Mach 5, but these products are not exactly what the nuclear powers having advanced military-industrial complexes call hypersonic weapons,” he remarked.
Mikhailov explained that the term hypersonic weapon could not be used in relation to any object flying faster than Mach 5, but only those that can be guided and perform maneuvers and penetrate anti-missile and anti-aircraft defenses.
Military expert Dmitry Litovkin, the editor-in-chief of Independent Military Review, has told TASS that North Korea’s reported testing of a hypersonic missile followed December’s joint statement by China, Russia, Britain, the United States and France on the impermissibility of nuclear war.
“In this context North Korea has tested a ballistic missile that flew over Japan and splashed down outside the country’s economic zone. In this way North Korea drew attention to the fact that it possesses rather impressive missile technologies,” Litovkin said.
He stressed that North Korea was keen to join the club of countries armed with hypersonic weapons.
“Whether they achieve hypersonic speeds or not is a rhetorical question. Very possibly, more accurate data will emerge in due time, because all launches are monitored,” he said.
Litovkin believes that North Korea’s testing of a missile carrying a hypersonic warhead indicates that the country has been successful in its efforts to develop strategic weapons.
“Pyongyang has demonstrated quite a few variants of ballistic missiles. On the Internet one can find images from an exhibition in North Korea where a missile with a hypersonic warhead was on display,” he recalled.
In his opinion, North Korea’s tests pose greater threats to Japan and South Korea than to Russia’s Far East.
“They launch the missiles towards Japan, where there are 119 US bases – one of the likely hypothetical targets for the North Korean missiles,” Litovkin concluded.
North Korean tests
Earlier, the Korean Central News Agency said that the country on January 11 successfully tested a hypersonic missile, with the country’s leader Kim Jong-un watching the launch. The missile flew 1,000 kilometers to hit the designated target. The KCNA report stressed that the purpose of the test was to verify the parameters of the newly-developed hypersonic weapon system. The Japanese and South Korean military said that Pyongyang’s missile had splashed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan.
On January 3, the leaders of five nuclear powers and permanent members of the UN Security Council, said in a joint statement they regarded it as their top priority to prevent war between nuclear powers and to ease strategic risks. They voiced the certainty that a nuclear war could not be won and must never be started. They opposed the further proliferation of nuclear weapons and declared the readiness to cooperate with all states in order to create a climate of security.