(ATTN: RECASTS lead; ADDS more info, photo)
By Koh Byung-joon
SEOUL, Sept. 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Wednesday it conducted its first test-launch of a newly developed hypersonic missile a day earlier that has "strategic significance" in bolstering its self-defense capabilities.
The North's Academy of Defence Science test-fired the Hwasong-8 missile from Toyang-ri, Ryongrim County of Jagang Province, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
"The development of the hypersonic missile, one of 5 top-priority tasks of the five-year plan facing the field of strategic weapon for the development of defense science and weapon system set forth at the 8th Congress of the Party, has been pushed forward according to a sequential, scientific and reliable development process," the KCNA said.
"The development of this weapon system... is of great strategic significance in markedly boosting the independent power of ultra-modern defense science and technology of the country and in increasing the nation's capabilities for self-defense in every way," it added.
The test-launch also confirmed "the stability of the engine as well as of missile fuel ampoule that has been introduced for the first time," with the KCNA saying the test results showed that all technical specifications satisfied its design requirements.
The KCNA said that Pak Jong-chon, a member of the Presidium of the Politburo of the ruling Workers' Party, guided the launch. Leader Kim Jong-un did not attend the firing.
"He stressed the need for all the defence science research teams and workers of the munitions industry to rise up... and thus make greater successes in the work of increasing the country's defense capabilities thousand-fold," Pak was quoted as saying.
The test-firing of the new weapon came amid cautious optimism created by back-to-back statements issued by the leader's sister, Kim Yo-jong, late last week, in which she said Pyongyang could declare an end to the Korean War as suggested by the South and even discuss the possibility of a summit on conditions that Seoul drops its double standards and hostility against it.
This marked the North's sixth known major weapons test so far this year if test-firings of cruise missiles are taken into account. It also came about two weeks after the North launched two short-range missiles into the East Sea.
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