Published On: Tue, Apr 2nd, 2024
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North Korea ‘launches hypersonic nuke’ capable of vaporising key allies in minutes | World | News

North Korea successfully test-launched a Hwasong-16B nuclear-capable intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of vaporising South Korean and Japanese cities in just minutes, state media has claimed.

South Korea’s military said its neighbour launched a suspected intermediate-range ballistic missile toward waters off its eastern coast Tuesday, as it pushes to advance its weapons aimed at remote U.S. targets in the Pacific.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile was launched from an area near the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, and flew about 600 kilometers (372 miles) before landing in the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

Lee Sung Joon, spokesperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the launch likely followed up on a North Korean test in March of a solid-fuel engine built for a new intermediate-range hypersonic missile it has been developing.

If perfected, such weapons could reach the U.S. Pacific military hub of Guam and beyond, experts say.

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Lee didn’t specify why the South Koreans were assessing the missile as an IRBM or whether it was flown at less than its capacity, but said the North Koreans were likely experimenting with new warhead technologies.

Japan’s Defense Ministry gave more details in its assessment, saying the missile flew about 650 kilometers (403 miles) while reaching a maximum altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles) before landing in waters outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone. The Japanese military didn’t immediately say whether it assessed the missile as intermediate range or something else.

The United States in recent months has been increasing its deployment of strategic assets to the region, also including aircraft carriers and missile-firing submarines, in a show of force against North Korea.

The South Korean ministry said Tuesday’s training, which also involved the three countries’ fighter jets, was aimed at enhancing their response capabilities against North Korean nuclear and missile threats.

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