North Korea for the first time is recognizing the anniversary of the Nov. 29, 2017, launch of the Hwasong-15 ICBM on its official calendar, according to a Japanese press report Wednesday. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 3 (UPI) -- North Korea has declared a new day of observance on its official calendar to commemorate the launch of the Hwasong-15, an intercontinental ballistic missile, according to a Japanese press report.
NHK reported Wednesday that a Pyongyang-approved calendar, available from a North Korean state-owned enterprise and printed in China, showed Nov. 29 as a state-designated "Rocket Industry Day."
On Nov. 29, 2017, North Korea test-launched the Hwasong-15, a long-range missile that Pyongyang at the time claimed traveled more than 2,780 miles. Analysts later said the missile could have a range of more than 8,100 miles, sufficient to reach cities like Washington, D.C.
According to NHK, the new day of observance is making its first appearance on state calendars for 2021. In previous years, including periods of engagement with the United States, North Korea did not designate Nov. 29 as a special day, the report said.
The launch of the Hwasong-15 continues to be commemorated in North Korea. Last month during the regime's Eighth Party Congress, leader Kim Jong Un had said his country declared the completion of a national nuclear force to the world, citing the "success" of the Hwasong-15 launch.
Keio University Associate Professor Isozaki Atsuhito told the Japanese news network the North might have refrained from an aggressive position while Kim was in dialogue with former U.S. President Donald Trump, who once called the North Korean leader a "friend" on Twitter.
Atsuhito said the new observance day could mean North Korea is willing to expand on its military power, according to NHK.
The United States has said it would never accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state, and former U.S. negotiators say the denuclearization of North Korea is possible.
Joseph DeTrani said in a commentary published on 38 North on Monday Pyongyang's behavior changes during negotiations, suggesting diplomacy provides some relief from provocations.
"Years of negotiations with North Koreans tell us clearly that when we negotiated with them, they refrained from nuclear tests and long-range missile launches," DeTrani said. "But when we weren't talking to them ... North Korea was in a race to enhance its nuclear and missile capabilities."