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Kim Jong Un leads test of new missile that can hit US bases in region

Jon Herskovitz, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the test of a new ballistic missile designed to deploy a hypersonic glide vehicle that can deliver a nuclear payload, his state media reported, calling the test “an epoch-making success.”

Kim’s propaganda apparatus on Wednesday lauded the launch of the missile that took place a day earlier, which it said was intermediate-range — meaning it could hit U.S. military bases in the region.

It still remains to be seen if North Korea has actually developed a functional hypersonic glide vehicle. These weapons are designed to deploy a reentry vehicle for carrying a nuclear warhead that can change its flight path at high speeds, making it hard for interceptors to shoot them down.

North Korean state media showed images of Kim near the missile dubbed the Hwasong-16B prior to launch and the rocket flying in the air. Kim “has personally blazed the ceaseless untrodden path to developing and perfecting ultra-modern weapons with his unshakable will and inexhaustible energy,” the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

 

The missile launched Tuesday flew about 600 kilometers (375 miles), according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, and appeared to be related to a new engine for a hypersonic missile system North Korea tested about a month ago.

North Korea has a habit of provocations that coincide with elections in South Korea, and the launch came before a vote for a new parliament on April 10. Kim’s regime has bristled at the government of current conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol, who has taken a hard line on Pyongyang, and the latest launch serves as a reminder of North Korea’s threats to security.

North Korea last tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile in January. A missile of this sort is built to fly far enough to hit all of Japan, where the U.S. has tens of thousands of troops. It can also reach U.S. military facilities in Guam, where the Pentagon says it keeps one of America’s largest munitions depots in the world.


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