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North Korea Claims to Have Technology for Missile Re-Entry From Space

by Stella Kim and Alex Johnson /

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SEOUL, South Korea — 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.

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.

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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.

Related: North Korea Fires Ballistic Missiles: South Korea

"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.

Related: North Korea Threatens U.S. With Nuclear Strike Over War Games

Pyongyang threatened "all-out resistance" last week to this year's exercises.

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