North Korea claims it fired a new type of ballistic missile Monday, demonstrating its ability to carry out a highly accurate strike.
Experts, however, have expressed skepticism, noting there is no way to independently verify the test results.
The warhead atop the test missile fell just 23 feet (seven meters) from its target point, according to a statement from Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency.
The KCNA report did not give a distance the missile covered, but Japanese and South Korean monitors said it flew 248 miles (400 kilometers) over the Sea of Japan/East Sea from a launch point on Wonsan, on North Korea’s east coast.
KCNA said Monday’s test proved its ability to launch and guide a warhead equipped “with control wings.” Such a warhead, also known as a “maneuverable re-entry vehicle,” enables it to make corrections in midflight for greater accuracy.
North Korea also claimed to have fired Monday’s rocket from a new tracked, self-propeled vehicle, which, if true, would give Pyongyang the ability to launch missiles far quicker than compared to its previous systems.
The new missile and launch system were first displayed at a military parade in Pyongyang in April, KCNA said.
Bruce Bennett, senior international defense researcher at the Rand Corp, a California-based global policy think tank, expressed doubts about North Korea’s claims of success.
Several experts say the missile tested Monday was also fired two or three times in a string of four unsuccessful tests during March and April, Bennett told CNN.
“My first inclination is to assume that the North Korean missile was not very accurate. After all, Kim Jong Un was anxious to sustain a pattern of missile test successes after so many failures from late March through April,” he said.