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US assesses North Korea launches constitute use of new ICBM system

“After a careful analysis the US government has conclude that the DPRK’s two ballistic missile tests on February 26 and March 4 of this year involved a relatively new intercontinental ballistic missile system that the DPRK is developing,” the senior official told reporters in a background briefing.

The official continued, “This is a serious escalation by the DPRK, but unlike the DPRK’s three ICBM tests in 2017, neither of these launches demonstrated ICBM range or capability. These launches are likely intended to test elements of this new systems before the DPRK conducts a launch in full range, which they will potentially attempt to disguise as a space launch.”

The new system, the official noted, was first unveiled during the Korean Workers Party parade in October 2020 and again at a defense exhibition in October 2021.

The official said the US “strongly (condemns)” the launches, which, they said, “are a brazen violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, needlessly raise tensions, and risk destabilizing the security situation in the region.”

The assessment was made “in close coordination with our allies in the Republic of Korea and Japan,” the official said, and the US has shared details with other allies and partners, including the United Nations.

President Joe Biden remains open to meeting with Kim Jong Un, the official added.

The US Indo-Pacific Command, meanwhile, has “ordered intensified intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance collection activity in the Yellow Sea, as well as enhanced readiness among our ballistic missile defense forces in the region.”

Pressed by CNN, the official declined to elaborate on those “enhanced readiness” measures.

On Friday, the Department of Treasury is expected to announce “new actions to help prevent the DPRK from accessing foreign items and technology that enable it to advance prohibited weapons programs,” the official said, adding that “there will be a range of further actions in the coming days.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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