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N Korea at crossroads

North Korea claims test of defense-busting hypersonic missile

Kim's regime joins race for cutting-edge weapon led by Russia and China

The newly developed hypersonic missile Hwasong-8 is test-fired in this photo released by North Korean state news agency KCNA.

SEOUL/WASHINGTON -- North Korea said Wednesday that it conducted a successful test launch of a new hypersonic missile, a weapon that flies more than five times the speed of sound and makes tracking and interception far more difficult than conventional missiles.

The Hwasong-8 missile was fired by the country's Academy of Defense Science on Tuesday near the Chinese border, according to state-run Korean Central News Agency. Japanese and South Korean authorities had previously established that a missile was fired toward the Sea of Japan around 6:40 a.m.

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