North Korea fires response to regional arms race
- There may be doubts about Pyongyang’s claim that it has launched a hypersonic missile, but it comes at a time when other nations are extending their military might
North Korean media said the new weapon, the hermit state’s third rocket test this month, was one of five major systems laid out in its five-year military plan, which it contends is aimed at self-defence. The United Nations atomic energy agency said last month it believed Pyongyang had restarted a nuclear reactor which could produce plutonium for warheads. International sanctions have not deterred the North from developing arms and Washington insists the programme has to be scrapped if there is to be progress in peace talks, at a standstill since the collapse of a summit in Hanoi in 2019. South Korea, a key US ally, is spending billions of dollars on its own arms build-up.
But it is the US’ increased navy and air force presence that is creating most concern. China’s military modernisation is gaining pace and prompting greater attention to protecting sovereignty. North Korea’s missile developments are an inevitable response.