Kim Jong Un’s New Hypersonic Missiles Show He Can Hit U.S. Back


·         North Korea claims successful test of more maneuverable rocket

·         Part of broad push to deter preemptive strike by Washington


By Iain Marlow and Jon Herskovitz, Bloomberg

January 12, 2022


Just before dawn Tuesday, Kim Jong Un watched as a hypersonic missile took flight, “leaving behind it a column of fire,” and adding a new weapon in his arsenal that could potentially slip past U.S. defenses and deliver a nuclear bomb.


The rocket deployed a hypersonic glide vehicle that successfully hit a target at sea after flying roughly 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) and performing a 240-kilometer “corkscrew” maneuver, the official Korean Central News Agency said. Kim supervised the launch, making his first reported appearance at a weapons test in almost two years and underscoring the importance of a missile that would “help bolster the war deterrent of the country.”


While North Korea’s claims weren’t immediately verified, the launch was symbolic of a shift in the regime’s testing program. For more than two years, Kim has been focused on churning out a range of missiles developed to evade allied defense systems and make the idea of any U.S.-led preemptive attack too costly to contemplate.


That may help deter another confrontation with the U.S. like in 2017, when former President Donald Trump threatened “fire and fury” and officials talked of a “bloody nose” strike on the country. The tests show that Kim pressed ahead with plans to ward off any future attacks, even after Trump opened unprecedented face-to-face negotiations the next year.


Duyeon Kim, an adjunct senior fellow in Seoul at the Center for a New American Security, said Pyongyang is trying to create the impression that it can hit back...