Pentagon declares success for key test of missile defense

Pentagon declares success for key test of missile defense

The Pentagon successfully shot down an intercontinental ballistic missile using its own upgraded long-range interceptor missile on Tuesday in what was widely seen as a test of USA ability to counter a North Korean missile launch.

The threat came two days after the isolated regime conducted its latest test launch of a short-range ballistic missile.

A ground-based interceptor missile lifts off December 5 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California as part of a test of the Ballistic Missile Defense System.

Its most recent test of a medium-range Scud missile was claimed as a success, although North Korea's ability to launch a ballistic missile capable of hitting intercontinental targets has been disputed.

The missile test triggered swift condemnation from US President Donald Trump who said it showed "disrespect" for neighbouring China, the North's sole major ally, which has sought to ease tensions over Pyongyang's weapons programme.

It added that the system "demonstrates a limited capability to defend the USA homeland from small numbers of simple intermediate-range or intercontinental ballistic missile threats launched from North Korea or Iran".

"Based on its testing record, we can not rely upon this missile defense program to protect the United States from a North Korean long-range missile", said Philip E. Coyle of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

It was the third missile test by the nuclear-armed regime in less than three weeks, defying United Nations sanctions warnings and U.S. threats of possible military action.

In previous tests against slower targets the US GMD system had successfully hit its target in only nine of 17 attempts. To truly threaten the United States, North Korea would have to demonstrate that it has a missile that can reach the West Coast or farther inland, and it would have to learn how to shrink a nuclear warhead to fit atop an intercontinental missile and survive the stresses of re-entering the atmosphere.




The basic defensive idea is to fire a rocket into space upon warning of a hostile missile launch.

A new version of the military's long-range ground-based interceptor missile will be tested, the reports said.

KCNA also reported that Kim Jong-un "expressed the conviction that it [North Korea] would make a greater leap forward in this spirit to send a bigger "gift package" to the Yankees" as a warning in light of alleged USA military provocation in the region. "After all, Kim Jong Un was anxious to sustain a pattern of missile test successes after so many failures from late March through April", he said.

Davis played down the need for a successful test ahead of time.

In the 20-minute phone call, Abe said the North Korean issue took center stage during the G7 Summit in Italy and that the leaders agreed that the North's nuclear weapons program poses a grave threat to the global community, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

The anti-missile system is meant to protect the USA from limited attacks involving intermediate and long-range ballistic missiles.

Japan and South Korea both condemned the tests Monday. But Tuesday's test features a new kill vehicle and upgraded interceptor boosters.

North Korea said shortly after the test that they were ready to mass produce medium-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching Japan and USA military bases there.

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