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US assessing N. Korean missile but US safe from claimed hypersonic missile: US commander

John Kirby (R), spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense, is seen answering questions in a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington on Thursday, 2021 in this image captured from the website of the Defense Department. (Yonhap)
John Kirby (R), spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense, is seen answering questions in a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington on Thursday, 2021 in this image captured from the website of the Defense Department. (Yonhap)
The United States is still assessing the type of the missile launched by North Korea this week but the US homeland would remain safe even if it turns out to be a hypersonic missile as claimed by the North, the commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command said Thursday.

North Korea on Wednesday (Seoul time) said it fired a new hypersonic missile the previous day.

"I understand the intelligence community's still making an assessment of the North Korean claim to have tested a hypersonic," Gen. Glen VanHerck said in a Department of Defense press briefing that he took part in virtually.

"We'll just have to see that capability right now. It would be my assessment that the homeland would be safe and secure from a hypersonic capability as North Korea claims they have tested," he added when asked if the US missile defense could still protect the US mainland from North Korean hypersonic missiles.

The Air Force general also commands the US Northern Command.

Seoul earlier said the North Korean missile appeared to be at an early stage of development, and that it can still be intercepted by South Korean and US military assets around the Korean Peninsula.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the claimed hypersonic missile does not pose an immediate threat.

"While we've assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory or to our allies, it does highlight the destabilizing impact of the DPRK's illicit weapons program," he said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"And nothing changes about our commitment to our alliance with both Japan and South Korea."

The US State Department earlier condemned the latest North Korean missile launch as a violation of "multiple UN Security Council resolutions" that prohibit the North from testing any ballistic missiles or weapons of mass destruction. (Yonhap)

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