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China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, surprising US intelligence, according to a new report.

The missile launched in August and circled the globe before accelerating toward its target, which, according to three individuals reported on intelligence, missed about two dozen miles. Two of those individuals said the test showed how much progress China had made on hypersonic weapons – something US officials realized.

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“We now know how they did it,” said one person. The Financial Times.

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Taylor Frowell, a Chinese nuclear weapons expert and professor at MIT, said it would be “untenable” if China were to fully develop and deploy such a weapon.

“Hypersonic glide vehicles … fly on a lower trajectory and can maneuver in flight, making them difficult to track and destroy,” Frawell said.

US military officials in recent months have warned about China’s growing nuclear capabilities, especially after the release of satellite imagery that showed it was building more than 100 intercontinental missile silos. Two sources familiar with the recent test noted that the weapon could, in theory, fly through the South Pole rather than the more monitored North Pole route.

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During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in March, the head of the Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Philip Davidson, warned against a growing “imbalance” in the region brought on by China’s rapid military advance.

“The military balance in the Indo-Pacific is becoming more and more hostile to the United States and our allies,” Davidson said. “With this imbalance, we are accumulating risks that could encourage China to unilaterally change the status quo before our military is able to deliver an effective response.”

China announced earlier this year that it would increase its defense budget by 6.8% in 2022.

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A major concern is that China is not currently tied to any arms-control deal and has not yet properly engaged in negotiations with the US.

The Pentagon did not comment on the specific test, but acknowledged that China is a top priority.

“We have made our concerns clear about China’s military capabilities, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told Granthshala News. “That’s why we keep China as our number one pacing challenger.”

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The Pentagon did not respond to Granthshala News’ request for comment.

Granthshala News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.