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North Korea claims MIRV test

A suspected North Korean missile flight wake is observed at Yantai, China, on June 26. North Korea's official news agency KCNA said the test was aimed at securing MIRV capability. (Costfoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

North Korea has conducted a test aimed at developing missiles that can carry multiple warheads, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on 27 June.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff has disputed the claim, saying that the missile launched by North Korea a day earlier exploded mid-air over the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

“The DPRK Missile Administration successfully conducted the separation and guidance control test of individual mobile warheads on 26 June,” reported KCNA. It added that the test is of “great significance in attaining the goal of rapidly developing missile technologies”.

KCNA said the test was aimed at “securing MIRV capability”, a reference to multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicle (MIRV) technology, which enables the delivery of multiple warheads to different targets.

According to KCNA, the test deployed a first-stage engine of an intermediate-range, solid-fuel ballistic missile within a 170–200 km radius. “The separated mobile warheads were guided correctly to the three co-ordinate targets,” it added. “The effectiveness of a decoy separated from the missile was also verified by anti-air radar.”

The news agency went on to describe the test as part of a wider effort by the missile administration and its affiliated science institutes to “rapidly” develop weapon systems. It also termed MIRV capability as a “top priority” of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), the country's ruling political party, which is led by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

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