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North Korea fires missile with ‘super-large warhead’ – state media

The launch sought to verify flight characteristics of a new type of projectile with a 4.5-ton payload, KCNA has said

North Korea has tested a ballistic missile carrying a heavy warhead, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Tuesday. However, South Korean officials believe that Pyongyang fired two projectiles, suggesting that one of the launches may have gone awry.

According to KCNA, the country’s rocket agency on Monday successfully tested a new tactical ballistic missile, the Hwasongpho-11Da-4.5, capable of “carrying [a] 4.5 ton-class super-large warhead.” The agency said the test sought to “verify flight stability and hit accuracy at the maximum range of 500 km and the minimum range of 90 km.” It did not say where exactly the launch took place.

Pyongyang will also test-fire the same type of the missile later this month to verify its flight characteristics, accuracy, and the explosive power of the super-large warhead at a medium range of 250km, the statement added.

However, South Korean officials have provided a different version of events. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) claimed that the North launched two missiles with a ten-minute interval, adding that the first one travelled 600km while the second only went 120km, officials said.

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Lee Sung-jun, a spokesman for the JCS, noted that “there is the possibility that the second launched missile had an abnormal flight in the early stage.” That suggests that the projectile could have exploded, he said, causing the debris to fall inland. However, Lee stressed that an explosion remains only one theory, and that the South continues its analysis.

The JCS said that both missiles were fired from North Korea’s South Hwanghae Province in the western part of the country, in the northeastern direction about 130km from Pyongyang, which means that any debris from the projectile could have fallen not far from the North Korean capital.

North Korea routinely conducts missile tests while voicing strong concerns about military drills involving the US on and near the Korean peninsula, suggesting that the moves could be a rehearsal for a possible invasion. Last month, Washington and Seoul were joined by Tokyo to conduct Freedom Edge exercises involving an American aircraft carrier. The maneuvers were denounced by Pyongyang as “reckless and provocative military muscle-flexing.”

The recent launch also comes after Seoul’s military claimed that Pyongyang test-fired a hypersonic missile last week, but said that the test was an apparent failure.

July 02, 2024 at 01:31PM

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