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N Korea creates new holiday to mark ICBM test launch

SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea has created a new holiday to celebrate the anniversary of the successful test launch of its Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile last year, state media reported on Sunday.

On November 18, 2022, Pyongyang carried out what is believed to be the first full flight test of the Hwasong-17 – dubbed the “monster missile” by analysts.

The North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Sunday that the anniversary had been designated as a holiday at a meeting of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly.

“The establishment of Missile Industry Day marks a special event in our sacred journey of national defence development,” KCNA said. With the launch, it added, North Korea had “demonstrated to the world the majesty of a world-class nuclear power and the nation with the strongest intercontinental ballistic missile”.

Intercontinental ballistic missiles on display during a military parade to mark the 75th founding anniversary of North Korea’s army at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea. PHOTO: AP

North Korea often carries out major weapons tests on key holidays, and Seoul’s spy agency said last week that the country was in the final stages of preparing for a third launch of a military reconnaissance satellite. After a failed second attempt in August, Pyongyang said it would carry out the third launch in October, though it never materialised.

Analysts have said there is significant technological overlap between space launch capabilities and the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles, from which Pyongyang is banned under multiple United Nations sanctions.

North Korea has conducted a record number of missile tests this year, ignoring warnings from the United States (US), South Korea and their allies.

In September, Pyongyang enshrined its status as a nuclear power in its constitution, with leader Kim Jong-un calling for more modern atomic weapons to counter perceived threats from the US.