The US is set to launch an unprecedented anti-ICBM test amid tensions with North Korea
In the first test of its kind, the US Missile Defence Agency announced it would fire a Ground-based Midcourse Defence (GMD) interceptor from a military base in California.
Its target will be a custom-made missile resembling an ICBM fired from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The new interceptor will protect the US from any of Kim's missiles
The island is approximately 4,972 miles (8,000 km) from the Western seaboard of the US.
Christopher Johnson, spokesman for the US Missile Defence Agency, said: “We conduct increasingly complex test scenarios as the programme matures and advances.
The North Korean regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile
Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart
“Testing against an ICBM-type threat is the next step in that process.”
The test comes amid fears Kim Jong-un is developing a nuclear-equipped ICBM that could strike the US.
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Kim Jong-un reacts during the long-range Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) strategic ballistic rocket test launch with Ri Pyong Chol (2nd L), Kim Jong Sik (C) and Jang Chang Ha (2nd R)
Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said last week: “If left on its current trajectory the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland.
“While nearly impossible to predict when this capability will be operational, the North Korean regime is committed and is on a pathway where this capability is inevitable.”
Officials in Washington have denied the test is in response to heightened fears, with one source saying the launch had been planned “years in advance”.
But the US state of Hawaii appears to be preparing for the worst after producing a contingency plan for any nuclear strike from Pyongyang.
There are fears Pyongyang is developing nuclear ICBM
The plans include “reviewing existing procedures for mass casualty and fatality management”, in addition to “conducting in-service training for key staff regarding weapons effects”.
The plans have been described as “critical” for the survival of Hawaii’s 1.4million residents.