North Korea fires ICBM that may have been new type of weapon

North Korea on Thursday conducted its first intercontinental ballistic missile launch in a month, possibly testing a new type of more mobile, harder-to-detect weapons system, its neighbors said, in an extension of the North's provocative run of missile tests.

The launch prompted Japan to issue an evacuation order on a northern island, and though it was later retracted, it shows the vigilance of North Korea's neighbors over its evolving missile threats.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staffs said the missile launched on a high angle from near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang and fell in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan following a 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) flight.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff described the missile as having a medium or longer range. The United States National Security Council called it a long-range missile and Japan's defense minister an ICBM-class weapon.

South Korea's military believes North Korea launched a new type of ballistic missile, possibly using solid fuel, a defense official said under anonymity because of office rules.

If the launch involved a solid-fuel ICBM, it would be the North's first test of such a weapon. North Korea's known ICBMs all use liquid propellant systems that require them to be fueled before launches. But the fuel in a solid propellant weapon is already loaded inside, allowing them to be moved more easily and fired more quickly.

A solid-propellant ICBM is one of the key high-tech weapons that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to build to better cope with what he calls U.S. military threats. Other weapons he wants to acquire are a multiwarhead missile, a nuclear-powered submarine, a hypersonic missile and a spy satellite.

Kim Dong-yub, a professor...

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