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13 February, 2017

North Korea boasts ‘successful’ ballistic missile launch

Pyongyang says a new ballistic missile was test-fired on Sunday, adding that the launch was a success. The North Korean missile flew over 500 kilometers, landing in the sea and stirring up world leaders, with the US rushing to reassure its allies South Korea and Japan.

A new type of strategic medium-to-long-range ballistic missile, called Pukguksong-2, was test-fired on Sunday, the North Korean state news agency KCNA said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un personally supervised the launch, which the KCNA said was Pyongyang’s new means to deliver nuclear warheads.

The new missile was also successfully tested for its ability to dodge interceptors with evasive maneuvers, Yonhap news agency cited the statement as saying.

Another major boost for North Korean missile technology is the solid fuel engine said to be used in the new weapon. Pyongyang has been testing the engine, which would give the rockets greater range and make the launches harder to detect, over the past year. The technology was said to be tested previously in a submarine missile launch.

The Saturday launch gave rise to speculations whether it was a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) being tested, as Kim promised that the allegedly developed long-range ICBM would be test-fired in 2017. The flight path was also analyzed, with some reports suggesting it might have indicated a failed launch. The missile reportedly flew upward to an altitude of 550 kilometers (342 miles), before landing into the Sea of Japan 500 kilometers from the launch spot in the northwest province of North Pyongang, South Korean military sources said. It did not reach Japan’s economic zone.

However, the KCNA said the markedly high angle was chosen for the “safety of neighboring countries,” Reuters quotes.

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