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North Korea showcases Hwasong-18 ballistic missile at parade

A TV screen showing an image of the Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile at a North Korean military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the signing of the armistice. (Kim Jae-Hwan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

North Korea has for the first time displayed its Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at a public event. The weapon was showcased at a parade on 27 July to mark the 70th anniversary of Korean Armistice Agreement.

The Hwasong-18 is a nuclear-capable ICBM that has been test-fired twice thus far. The weapon was last launched on 12 July from the outskirts of Pyongyang. It flew for about 1,000 km before splashing down in the Sea of Japan (East Sea). Ahead of this firing, the Hwasong-18 was tested in April 2023.

In its statement to mark the latest test in July, state-owned Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)referred to the Hwasong-18 as a weapon that is operated by the country's strategic force as part of a mission to “deter and respond to threats of nuclear war”. The ICBM has also been described as a weapon that features a solid-fuel propulsion system.

Footage from the parade on 27 July confirms that the Hwasong-18 is deployed onboard a nine-axled transporter-erector-launcher (TEL). It has a diameter of about 2 m, is estimated to weigh about 1.5 tonnes, and is likely equipped with a three-stage solid-fuel rocket motor system.

Besides a single-warhead payload, the Hwasong-18 is also likely able to accommodate multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs), which would allow the weapon to be deployed against several objectives per launch.

In addition to the Hwasong-18, North Korea also showcased the Hwasong-17 ICBM and several new strike-capable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

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