North Korea Says It Tested Multi-Warhead Missile Technology

North Korea said for the first time on Thursday that it had tested technology for launching several nuclear warheads with a single missile, days after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia visited the North and raised the prospect of expanded military and technical cooperation.

The test on Wednesday was “aimed at securing the MIRV capability,” the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency reported. MIRV stands for “multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle,” a missile payload containing several warheads, each of which can be sent to a different target. The report said the test had involved part of a MIRV system, not a full-fledged multiple-warhead missile.

Since North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, hosted Mr. Putin for talks last week, officials and analysts have expressed concern that their deepening ties would encourage Mr. Kim to embark on an ambitious upgrade to his nuclear arsenal.

MIRV capability would mark a drastic increase in the threat the North poses to the United States and its allies, because a high-speed ballistic missile splitting into several nuclear warheads, as well as decoys, is harder for missile defense systems to intercept.

South Korean officials called the North’s Wednesday test a failure soon after it occurred, saying that a missile had exploded over waters east of the country after flying 150 miles.

This is a developing story.

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