North Korea claimed to have successfully test-fired a hypersonic missile on Sunday as Pyongyang moves toward procuring a rocket that can travel at five times the speed of sound in a bid to bolster its nuclear arms arsenal against the U.S. and South Korea.
The country fired an “intermediate-range solid-fuel ballistic missile” equipped with a hypersonic, maneuverable warhead, according to the state-run Pyongyang Times.
North Korean officials said the successful test was designed to verify the ability of the hypersonic warhead as well as the solid-fuel engines.
While ballistic missiles can travel faster than the speed of sound, a true hypersonic rocket is maneuverable in flight and can reach even faster speeds.
This makes them a far more lethal threat than intercontinental ballistic missiles, which follow a predictable trajectory once fired.
Both China and Russia have hypersonic missiles in their arsenal, while the U.S. is racing to develop one of its own.
North Korea first tested a hypersonic missile in 2021 called the Hwasong-8, using a glide vehicle atop a ballistic missile to approach supersonic speeds.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has pushed his country to increase arms testing and production, defying pressure from the U.S. and South Korea and raising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Along with frequent missile tests and artillery shelling at the border with South Korea, North Korea last year launched its first-ever spy satellite into orbit with help from Russia.
Moscow entered an agreement to provide North Korea with advanced technology to boost its space and weapons programs in return for artillery shells and rockets, according to the White House.