Kim Orders Missile Tests That Re-Enter From Space

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Pyongyang: Five days after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles in an apparent show of force, leader Kim Jong Un has ordered tests of missiles that can re-enter the atmosphere from space, Pyongyang’s state newspaper claimed Tuesday.

The government newspaper, Rodong Shinmun, ran pictures Tuesday of what it claimed was a successful simulated test, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap.

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Claims by the North Korean government about its military are usually dismissed as propaganda by Western observers, and South Korea’s Defense Ministry said it doesn’t buy Kim’s latest claim.

Re-entry capability would mean North Korea not only would be able to launch long-range ballistic missiles, but that it would also be able to guide them once they re-enter the atmosphere.

“What North Korea announced is a unilateral claim,” Moon Sang Gyun, a spokesman for the South’s Defense Ministry, said at a news conference. “We believe North Korea has not yet acquired atmospheric re-entry technology.”

Last week, Kim said North Korea had succeeded in miniaturizing a nuclear warhead — another claim South Korea rejected. Taken together, the two announcements raise tensions amid South Korea’s and the United States’ annual military exercises.