US launches missile test

The Pentagon said a mock intercontinental ballistic missile had been used to test its rocket, and that it was completely destroyed in a direct mid-air collision with the rocket's "exo-atmospheric kill vehicle".

The Pentagon's oft-criticized missile defense program has scored a triumph, destroying a mock warhead over the Pacific Ocean with an interceptor that is key to protecting USA territory from a North Korean attack.

Vice Admiral Jim Syring, director of the Pentagon agency in charge of developing the missile defence system, said their test result was "an incredible accomplishment".

On Tuesday, the United States will test an existing missile defense system to try to intercept an ICBM, the first such test, officials said last week.

"They've [North Korea] conducted an unprecedented level of nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches in the previous year, including their 4th and 5th nuclear tests, as well as its short-range, medium-range, intermediate-range, long-range and submarine-launched ballistic missiles", Davis said.

The test will, however, not confirm that the U.S.is capable of defending itself against an ICBM fired by North Korea.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the test had been planned for some time and was not timed specifically as a response to the DPRK.

But the interceptors, based in California and Alaska, would be overwhelmed by a full-scale attack from countries like Russian Federation or China, which could fire dozens of missiles at a time. So far, the system has had a 53 per cent success rate against shorter-range missiles.

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A 2016 assessment released by the Pentagon's weapons testing office in January said that U.S. ground-based interceptors meant to knock out any incoming ICBM still had low reliability, giving the system a limited capability of shielding the US.

South Korea's military has said the Scud-type missile travelled eastward for 450-km.

The second missile successfully intercepted the first missile over the ocean, destroying it in mid-flight.

Tuesday's test comes as the U.S. has ramped up other missile defense efforts, including the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system to South Korea which is created to counter short, medium and intermediate range missile threats. However, experts say it may be trying to test new capabilities that may be fed into its efforts to build an ICBM. A simulated attack intercontinental ballistic missile was sacked from a tiny island in the Pacific.

The most recent North Korean test involved a short-range ballistic missile that traveled about 250 miles before splashing down in Japan's "exclusive economic zone" near the coast.

At the United Nations Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the Trump administration believes China is doing what she calls "backchannel networking" with the North on its nuclear program, and that the U.S. will keep up the pressure on China.

North Korea's deputy U.N. ambassador, Kim In Ryong, told U.N. correspondents on May 19 that his government will rapidly strengthen its nuclear strike capability as long as the United States maintains its "hostile policy" toward the country.

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