North Korea has claimed it conducted another successful test flight of a hypersonic missile, the second alleged test of the weapon by the Kim Jong Un regime.
This most recent launch came just days after the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un vowed to bolster his military forces despite pandemic-related difficulties.
Wednesday's test, the North's first known weapons test in about two months, indicates the country will continue with plans to modernise its nuclear and missile arsenals rather than return to disarmament talks.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea's state media, said the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party expressed "great satisfaction" at the results of the missile test, which was observed by leading weapons officials.
If the claims are true, the ability to deploy a hypersonic weapon could have profound implications on the security situation in Asia.
Minister for Asia, Amanda Milling said: "The UK is deeply concerned by North Korea’s decision to carry out a ballistic missile test; this violates multiple UN Security Council Resolutions and poses a threat to regional peace and security.
'We urge North Korea to refrain from further provocations and take concrete steps towards complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation.
"Alongside our allies and partners, the UK is committed to peace on the Korean Peninsula, upholding the rules-based international system and securing an end to North Korea’s unlawful activities.
"We strongly encourage North Korea to return to dialogue with the US."
Watch: What are hypersonic missiles? We took a closer look in October 2021.
Hypersonic weapons, which fly at speeds in excess of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, could pose crucial challenges to missile defense systems because of their speed and manoeuvrability.
It is unclear whether and how soon North Korea could manufacture such a high-tech missile, but it was among a wish-list of sophisticated military assets Mr Kim disclosed early last year along with a multi-warhead missile, spy satellites, solid-fueled long-range missiles and underwater-launched nuclear missiles.
Wednesday's test was the second of its kind since North Korea first launched a hypersonic missile in September.
A KCNA dispatch said: "The successive successes in the test launches in the hypersonic missile sector have strategic significance in that they hasten a task for modernising strategic armed force of the state."