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North Korea’s apparently successful test-firing Sunday of a new intermediate-range ballistic missile points to a significant advance in the reclusive nation’s goal of mastering the technology needed to hit the continental United States with a long-range, nuclear-tipped missile, experts said Monday.

The North bragged earlier Monday in a report carried by state media that the test had been aimed at verifying its capability of carrying “a large-size heavy nuclear warhead.” The launch of the new missile, referred to as the Hwasong-12, was overseen by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said in a dispatch.

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