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Lee Jin-man / AP

The U.S. said Tuesday it successfully shot down a test intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), which is similar to ones North Korea is developing, using the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD), per Reuters. The test was launched north of Hawaii and hit the test missile over the Pacific Ocean.

What it means: Since THAAD is deployed to South Korea and Guam to protect against the short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles, this "should be reassuring to US military forces in Korea who would be defended by THAAD, but also to the 10 million or so South Koreans who THAAD could also defend," Senior International Defense Researcher at the RAND Corporation Bruce Bennett told Axios. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said this test "bolsters the country's defensive capability" against North Korean threats.

Two big caveats:

  1. Bennett warned current THAAD deployment of only two launchers "would not be sufficient to protect all areas of southern Korea," likely leaving some cities without missile defense.
  2. This test is not expected to shoot down an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Editor of The Nonproliferation Review Joshua Pollack confirmed to Axios.

Go deeper

Updated 36 mins ago - Health

Texas to end all coronavirus restrictions

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking at the White House in December 2020. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas will end its coronavirus restrictions next week with an upcoming executive order, Gov. Greg Abbot (R) announced Tuesday during a press conference in Lubbock.

Why it matters: After Abbott signs the new order, which rescinds previous orders, all businesses can open to 100% capacity and the statewide mask mandate will be over, though large parts of the state will remain under mask local ordinances.

Senate confirms Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as commerce secretary

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D). Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Senate voted 84-15 on Tuesday to confirm Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to lead the Commerce Department.

Why it matters: The agency promotes U.S. industry, oversees the Census Bureau, plays a key role in the government's study of climate change through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and evaluates emerging technology through the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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  3. Vaccine: J&J CEO "absolutely" confident in vaccine distribution goals — Vaccine hesitancy is shrinking.
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