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Missile test showed highly accurate warhead, says North Korea

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North Korea claims it fired a new type of ballistic missile Monday, demonstrating its ability to carry out a highly accurate strike.

The warhead atop the test missile fell just 23 feet (seven meters) from its target point, according to a statement from Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency.

The KCNA report did not give a distance the missile covered, but Japanese and South Korean monitors said it flew 248 miles (400 kilometers) over the Sea of Japan/East Sea from a launch point on Wonsan, on North Korea’s east coast.

KCNA said Monday’s test successfully demonstrated its ability to launch and guide of a warhead equipped “with control wings.” Such a warhead, also known as a “maneuverable re-entry vehicle,” enables it to make corrections in midflight for greater accuracy.

North Korea also claimed to have fired Monday’s rocket from a new tracked, self-propeled vehicle, which, if true, would give Pyongyang the ability to launch missiles far quicker than compared to its previous systems.

The new missile and launch system were first displayed at a military parade in Pyongyang in April, KCNA said.

Monday’s missile launch was North Korea’s third such test in less than three weeks.

North Korea has fired 12 missiles during nine tests so far in 2017 — this compares with 10 missile launches in the same time period in 2016.

Analysts say all of North Korea’s tests, successful or not, provide information that help bring it closer to its goal of building a missile that could reach the US.

Monday’s missile test drew immediate protests from Japan and South Korea, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promising “concrete action” in response to the test, and South Korean defense chiefs saying the North would face “strong punishment from our military.”

US President Donald Trump tweeted that North Korea showed “great disrespect” for longtime ally China with the test.

China has called on Pyongyang to suspend its nuclear and missile testing while calling on the US to stop military exercises on and near the Korean Peninsula which North Korea sees as a threat to its sovereignty.