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No progress in North Korea missile programme: US

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WASHINGTON (AP): North Korea's recent failed rocket launch shows that the communist country has made little progress in its spaceflight programme, the head of the US missile defence programme has said.

The assessment by Lt Gen Patrick J O'Reilly raises questions about the immediate threat to the United States from a North Korean long-range missile and the billions that the US spends to counter it.

O'Reilly on Wednesday testified before a Senate panel in defence of the missile defence programme and the Obama administration's $7.75 billion budget request for next year. He was pressed about the failure last Friday of North Korea's Unha-3 rocket that broke apart.

The North Korean government said the rocket carried an Earth observation satellite, though other countries said it was a cover for testing long-range missile technology.

North Korea's Unha rocket shots in 1998, 2006 and 2009 are believed to have ended in failure.

"Our experience has been you need a lot of testing and flight testing in order to validate and have reliance in the capability," O'Reilly told the Senate Appropriations defence subcommittee.

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N Korea  US  Missile  
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