US intelligence assesses whether North Korea has tested a never-before-seen missile

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The US intelligence community is trying to determine whether North Korea tested a ballistic missile earlier this week with characteristics never seen before.

North Korea’s launch of three ballistic missiles on Wednesday included one that flew in an unusual trajectory, officials said. The missile had a flight path that two officers described as a “double arc”, with the missile rising and falling twice.

The trajectory may indicate that the objective was to test North Korea’s ability to fire a missile and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere to hit a target.

The second phase of the missile’s possible “double arc” may have been a vehicle separating from the main missile. It is still not entirely clear to the US whether this was all part of the planned flight path, an official said.

The US intelligence assessment of all three test launches is still in the preliminary stages, the officials emphasized.

“The United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan express deep concern about the May 25 launches of an intercontinental ballistic missile and short-range ballistic missiles,” reads a joint statement by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken of the South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi.

“North Korea has significantly increased the pace and scale of its ballistic missile launches since September 2021. Each of these launches violated several United Nations Security Council resolutions and posed a serious threat to the region and the international community.” , added the statement.

Tests

The North Korean tests followed US President Joe Biden’s trip to the region, which included a stop in South Korea. It is unclear which of the three missiles launched had the unusual flight pattern.

Japan had also publicly insinuated that one of the missiles flew in an unusual manner, with Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi calling it an “irregular trajectory”.

South Korea said an alleged ICBM was fired at around 6 am local time on Wednesday, with a flight range of about 360 kilometers and an altitude of approximately 540 kilometers.

At around 6:37 a.m. local time, North Korea fired a second ballistic missile — not believed to be an ICBM — and it appears to have disappeared from South Korean tracking at an altitude of 20 kilometers, South Korea said. A preliminary assessment indicated that it is possible that the missile may have flown over a populated area of ​​North Korea.

The third missile, presumably a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM), flew about 760 kilometers and had an altitude of 60 kilometers, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield confirmed that one missile had an intercontinental range in a statement: “North Korea’s launch of three ballistic missiles on May 25 included a further ICBM launch. The United States assesses this as the sixth ICBM launch by the North Koreans since early 2022.”

She warned that the regime has launched 23 ballistic missiles since the beginning of the year and “is actively preparing to carry out a nuclear test”.

The trio of launches, which took place over the span of an hour, came amid concerns that North Korea is preparing for its first underground nuclear test since 2017.

South Korea on Wednesday detected signs that the neighboring country was testing a detonating device for a nuclear test, which could be a precursor to an actual test, according to an official.

Following the launches, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a secure call with South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup “to discuss assessments and response measures for the recent Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) ballistic missile launches. ,” according to a Pentagon statement.

The latest launches mark the 16th time North Korea has tested its missiles this year, including what the US believes was a failed ICBM test on May 4 that exploded shortly after launch.

But North Korea is believed to have tested an ICBM in late March. That missile flew at an altitude of 6,000 kilometers and a distance of 1,080 kilometers with a flight time of 71 minutes before falling into waters off Japan’s west coast, according to Japan’s Ministry of Defense.

Source: CNN Brasil

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