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Pictures of Earth taken by a North Korean missile launched into space

North Korea conducted a new test of its medium-range ballistic missile (IRBM) on Sunday, posting two very similar images of Earth taken from space to prove the successful launch. The photos show part of the Korean Peninsula and mainland China. The North Korean regime followed suit confirmed The launch of the Hwasong-12 missile, the seventh since the beginning of the year, is further evidence of progress in the development and management of ballistic tests.

Earth captured by a camera aboard a North Korean Hwasong-12 missile

The United Nations has long banned North Korea from conducting ballistic and nuclear tests, but the North Korean regime has shown over the years that it is not complying with the ban despite severe economic sanctions imposed for violating it.

Before the North Korean announcements, the new launch was confirmed by the governments of South Korea and Japan. It is estimated that the IRBM reached a maximum altitude of about two thousand kilometers, and then retreated by about 800 kilometers from its launch base. Parts of the missile ended up in the waters off Japan.

As this was a demonstration launch, the IRBM was privileged to reach high altitude rather than wide.

According to calculations, following a standard trajectory, the missile should be able to travel a distance of about 4 thousand km, being able to reach various targets, including the US territory of Guam, in the western Pacific Ocean. The North’s official Korean Central News Agency confirmed the launch and claimed that the route was maintained “taking into account the security of neighboring countries”.

North Korea’s Hwasong-12 missile launched from above (KCNA)

According to several North Korean analysts and experts, Sunday’s test was conducted to verify the functionality and reliability of some of the missile systems on board the missile, and not to further prove the system’s progress. A confirmation of this hypothesis appears to have been confirmed by the fact that the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, was not present at the time of the launch. These events are usually seen as an important opportunity for publicity, so their absence could indicate the fact that there was no certainty about the test result.

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The Hwasong-12 can be equipped with nuclear warheads, another technology North Korea continues to test, despite sanctions imposed by the international community. Launches with these types of missiles were suspended after the moratorium was announced in 2018 in conjunction with meetings between Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump. But the suspension of missile tests lasted less than a year due to the new rapid deterioration in relations between the two countries.

The new launch took place a few weeks after the launch Winter Olympics in China, one of the most important events of 2022. In South Korea, political elections are also scheduled for next March, usually accompanied by strong propaganda on the issue of the politically divided Korean Peninsula. North Korea has every interest in demonstrating its progress in the military to remain relevant in the international context and to resume any nuclear negotiations.