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North Korea Missile Test Hints at Greater Menace to U.S. Bases

North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile off its east coast on Tuesday, an indication that the country was continuing to develop missiles capable of targeting American military bases in the Western Pacific.

The missile, launched from near Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, did not fly over Japan, as have some of the IRBMs that North Korea has launched in the past. Instead, it fell in waters between the two countries after flying for 372 miles, the South Korean military said.

South Korean and American officials were analyzing data collected from the test to learn more about the missile, the military said. But analysts said the test may have involved a new intermediate-range hypersonic missile powered by a solid-fuel engine. Last month, North Korea said it had tested one such engine on the ground.

In recent years, North Korea has tried to make its missiles a greater threat to the United States and its allies in the region by combining ​new solid-fuel and hypersonic technologies. Missiles using such technologies are faster to launch and more difficult to intercept.

North Korea last conducted an IRBM test on Jan. 14, when it said it had launched a solid-fuel IRBM loaded with a hypersonic warhead. On March ​19, it said it had conducted a ground jet test of a solid-fuel engine for a new hypersonic IRBM.

Unlike its short-range ballistic missiles, an intermediate-range ballistic missile fired from North Korea can theoretically cover all of Japan and Guam​, a U.S. territory in the Western Pacific.