North Korea’s Latest Missile Launch Suggests Progress Toward ICBM: Experts AND North Korea Vows Missile Tests ‘Any Time, Any Place’, Defying U.S. Warnings

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea’s successful missile test-launch signals major advances in developing an intercontinental ballistic missile, such as mastery of re-entry technology and better engine performance key to targeting the United States, experts say.

The isolated country has been developing a long-range missile capable of striking the mainland United States mounted with a nuclear warhead. That would require a flight of 8,000 km (4,800 miles) or more and technology to ensure a warhead’s stable re-entry into the atmosphere.

The North’s official KCNA news agency said the new strategic ballistic missile named Hwasong-12, fired on Sunday at the highest angle to avoid affecting neighboring countries’ security, flew 787 km (489 miles) on a trajectory reaching an altitude of 2,111.5 km (1,312 miles).

The details reported by KCNA were largely consistent with South Korean and Japanese assessments that it flew further and higher than an intermediate-range missile (IRBM) tested in February from the same region, northwest of Pyongyang.

Such an altitude meant it was launched at a high trajectory, which would limit the lateral distance traveled. But if it was fired at a standard trajectory, it would have a range of at least 4,000 km (2,500 miles), experts said.

The test “represents a level of performance never before seen from a North Korean missile”, John Schilling, an aerospace expert, said in an analysis on the U.S.-based 38 North website.

“It appears to have not only demonstrated an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that might enable them to reliably strike the U.S. base at Guam, but more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).”

KCNA said the test launch verified the homing feature of the warhead that allowed it to survive “under the worst re-entry situation” and accurately detonate.

The claim, if true, could mark an advancement in the North’s ICBM program exceeding most expectations, said Kim Dong-yub, a professor at Kyungnam University’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul.

Kim, a former South Korean navy officer, added the trajectory showed the North was clearly testing the re-entry technology under flight environments consistent for a ICBM.

The North has successfully launched long-range rockets twice to put objects into space. But many had believed it was some years away from mastering re-entry expertise for perfecting an ICBM, which uses similar engineering in early flight stages.

Sunday’s missile launch also tested the North’s capability to carry a “large-size heavy nuclear warhead”, the state news agency said.

“The test-fire proved to the full all the technical specifications of the rocket … like guidance and stabilization systems … and reconfirmed the reliability of new rocket engine under the practical flight circumstances,” KCNA said.

On Monday, South Korea’s military played down the North’s claim of technical progress on atmospheric re-entry, saying the possibility was low.

“HELL OF A RIDE”

North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper devoted half of its six-page Monday edition to coverage of the missile test, with vivid color photographs of the launch and jubilant leader Kim celebrating with military officers.

The pictures featured a long nose-coned projectile that appeared to be similar to missiles displayed during an April 15 military parade for the birth anniversary of state founder Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather.

The nose cone resembles that of the KN-08 ICBM the North is believed to be developing, and the lofted trajectory tests re-entry by putting the missile through extra stress, said Joshua Pollack of the U.S.-based Nonproliferation Review.

“This is an advanced missile, if their claims are true,” he said.

KCNA said Kim accused the United States of “browbeating” countries that “have no nukes”, warning Washington not to misjudge the reality that its mainland was in the North’s “sighting range for strike”.

North Korea, which is banned by UN resolutions from engaging in nuclear and missile developments, has accused the United States of a hostile policy to crush its regime, calling its nuclear weapons a “sacred sword” to protect itself.

The North’s leader, Kim, has said it was in final stages of developing an ICBM.

It was difficult to say when the North will have a reliably tested ICBM ready to deploy, said Lee Choon-geun, a senior research fellow at South Korea’s state-run Science and Technology Policy Institute.

“When it comes to actual deployment, developed countries have tested at least 20 ICBMs and their success rate should be around 90 percent. It is not there yet,” he said.

But the new engine used for Sunday’s test signaled a major step forward in the intermediate-range missile development, one that can be modified for an ICBM flight, Lee added.

The lofted trajectory that would have result in more than 40 times the gravitational force at re-entry also raises questions about the stability of the payload and how much stress it can withstand, said Munich-based aerospace engineer Markus Schiller.

“We do not know if the re-entry vehicle survived this hell of a ride, and even if it did, we do not know if North Korea can build a payload that will also survive this ride.”

(By Jack Kim and Ju-min Park; Additional reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Clarence Fernandez)

Source: http://www.oann.com/north-korea-says-missile-test-aimed-at-testing-carrying-large-nuclear-warhead-kcna/


SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea said on Monday it had successfully conducted a mid- to-long-range missile test and would continue such launches “any time, any place”, defying UN Security Council resolutions and warnings from the United States.

North Korea, which regularly threatens to destroy the United States in a sea of flames, has accused Washington of pushing the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war with recent military drills with South Korea and Japan.

The North’s KCNA news agency said Sunday’s test launch verified the homing feature of the warhead that allowed it to survive “under the worst re-entry situation” and accurately detonate.

It also tested the North’s capability to carry a “large-size heavy nuclear warhead”, KCNA said.

“The test-fire proved to the full all the technical specifications of the rocket … like guidance and stabilization systems … and reconfirmed the reliability of new rocket engine under the practical flight circumstances,” KCNA said.

The test “represents a level of performance never before seen from a North Korean missile”, John Schilling, an aerospace expert, said in an analysis on the U.S.-based 38 North website.

“It appears to have not only demonstrated an intermediate-range ballistic missile that might enable them to reliably strike the U.S. base at Guam, but more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile.”

The missile flew 787 km (489 miles) on a trajectory reaching an altitude of 2,111.5 km (1,312 miles), KCNA said.

North Korea has been developing a long-range missile capable of striking the mainland United States mounted with a nuclear warhead. That would require a flight of 8,000 km (4,800 miles) or more and technology to ensure a warhead’s stable re-entry into the atmosphere.

“The test-firing of ICBMs will occur at any time and place, at the will of North Korea’s highest leadership,” North Korea’s ambassador to China, Ji Jae Ryong, told reporters in Beijing on Monday, a day before the UN Security Council meets in New York to discuss the test.

North Korea has defied calls to curb its missile and nuclear weapons programs, testing its relationship with its lone major ally, China, which has always called for talks to resolve the issue, and prompting South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, to “strongly condemn” Sunday’s action.

“HARMFUL AND DANGEROUS”

U.S. President Donald Trump warned in an interview with Reuters this month that a “major, major conflict” with North Korea was possible. In a show of force, the United States sent an aircraft carrier strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, to waters off the Korean peninsula to conduct drills with South Korea and Japan.

It says the “era of strategic patience” with North Korea is over.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Beijing that Moscow was opposed to any new countries acquiring nuclear weapons, but that the world should talk to North Korea rather than threaten it.

“I want to confirm that we are categorically against the expansion of the club of nuclear powers, including with the Korean peninsula and North Korea,” said Putin, who said any such move would be “harmful and dangerous”.

“But at the same time, we understand that what we have observed in the world recently, and specifically flagrant violations of international law and incursions into the territory of foreign states, changes in regime, lead to such kinds of arms races.”

Putin did not specify what countries he had in mind, but he has in the past repeatedly criticized the United States for military operations in Iraq, Libya and Syria, and accused it of trying to oust legitimate governments.

The Russian Defence Ministry said on Sunday that the missile crashed into the Sea of Japan around 500 km (310 miles) off the Russian coast.

The North has successfully launched long-range rockets twice to put objects into space. But many had believed it was some years away from mastering re-entry expertise for perfecting an ICBM, which uses similar engineering in early flight stages.

North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper devoted half of its six-page Monday edition to coverage of the missile test, with vivid color photographs of the launch and jubilant leader Kim Jong Un celebrating with military officers.

The pictures featured a long nose-coned projectile that appeared to be similar to missiles displayed during an April 15 military parade for the birth anniversary of state founder Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather.

The nose cone resembles that of the KN-08 ICBM the North is believed to be developing, and the lofted trajectory tests re-entry by putting the missile through extra stress, said Joshua Pollack of the U.S.-based Non-proliferation Review.

“This is an advanced missile, if their claims are true.”

KCNA said Kim accused the United States of “browbeating” countries that “have no nukes”, warning Washington not to misjudge the reality that its mainland is in the North’s “sighting range for strike”.

The United States called the missile launch a message to South Korea, days after Moon took office pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue and keep up international pressure to impede the North’s arms pursuit.

Two senior national security advisers to Trump will meet Moon’s top foreign policy adviser, Chung Eui-yong, in Seoul on Tuesday to discuss a summit of the leaders and the North’s missile test, a source with direct knowledge of the meeting said.

(Reporting by Jack Kim and Ju-min Park; Additional reporting by James Pearson in Seoul and Philip Wen and Denis Dyomkin in Beijing; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Source: http://www.oann.com/north-korea-vows-missile-tests-any-time-any-place-defying-u-s-warnings/

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