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North Korea says it tested a multiwarhead missile. Kim covets the weapon to overwhelm US defenses

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Thursday it had successfully tested a multiwarhead missile, a sophisticated weapon coveted by leader Kim Jong Un to overwhelm missile defenses in the continental United States. The statement contradicted South Korea’s assessment of a failed launch Wednesday of a different type of weapon.

The launch tested the separation and guidance control of individual mobile warheads to ensure the capability of the Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicle, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said. The separated mobile warheads “were guided correctly to the three coordinate targets” and a decoy that separated from the missile was verified by radar, it said.

It was North Korea’s first known launch event related to the development of a multiwarhead missile, though outside experts believe it was a preliminary test.

KCNA, citing the country’s Missile Administration, said it was significant to bolstering North Korea’s missile forces and developing missile technologies that testing of the weapon had entered a full-scale stage.

A multiwarhead missile was among the high-tech weapons systems Kim cited on his wish list during a ruling party meeting in early 2021, along with spy satellites, solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles, hypersonic weapons and submarine-launched nuclear missiles. North Korea has since performed a series of tests to develop such weapons systems.

“I had been anticipating a MIRV test for some time now, as this was one of the last remaining items on Kim Jong Un’s modernization wish list from the 8th Party Congress back in January 2021,” said Ankit Panda, a senior analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Panda said Wednesday’s test appeared to be an