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North Korea says it tested new hypersonic missile

SEOUL (AP):  North Korea said Wednesday it successfully tested a new hypersonic missile it implied was being developed as nuclear capable as it continues to expand its military capabilities while pressuring Washington and Seoul over long-stalled negotiations over its nuclear weapons.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency said the missile during its first flight test on Tuesday met key technical requirements set out by defense scientists, including launch stability and the maneuverability and gliding flight characteristics of the detached hypersonic gliding warhead. State media released a photo of a missile mounted with a finned, cone-shaped payload soaring into the air while leaving a trial of bright orange flames.

The latest launch, which came after two rounds of missile tests this month, was shortly before North Korea's U.N. envoy accused the United States of hostility and demanded the Biden administration permanently end joint military exercises with rival South Korea and the deployment of strategic assets in the region. The North has also offered to improve relations with the South if certain conditions are met, apparently returning to its pattern of mixing weapons demonstrations with peace overtures to wrest outside concessions.

The North's announcement came a day after the South Korean and Japanese militaries said they detected North Korea firing a ballistic missile into sea. The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the launch didn't pose an immediate threat but highlighted the destabilizing impact of (North Korea's) illicit weapons program.

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