N. Korea needs a decade or more to produce ICBM with multiple warheads: expert

임장원 기자() | Posted : July 11, 2017, 09:50 | Updated : July 11, 2017, 09:50

[Courtesy of 38 North]

For North Korea, it will take a decade or more at best to produce an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads that require a lot more testing, a US expert said.

The North's new Hwasong-14 is an "unreliable" missile that can reach Alaska or Hawaii with a single nuclear warhead, John Schilling said in an article published by 38 North, the website of a US research institute.

"However, with a year or two of additional testing and development, it will likely become a missile that can reliably deliver a single nuclear warhead to targets along the US west coast, possibly with enough accuracy to destroy soft military targets like naval bases," he said.

In perhaps five years, the North may be able to incorporate a modest suite of decoys and penetration aids to challenge US missile defenses, he said.

"A multiple warhead capability, while theoretically possible, would require a very lightweight warhead, which will require a lot more nuclear testing and is probably a decade in the future at best," the expert said.

The new Hwasong-14 appears to be closely based on elements of several previous missiles, but it surprising, nonetheless, that North Korea was able to make the latest test look like a new missile by using technologies and systems they have been working with in other contexts, he said.

"We expect there will eventually be more than just a single warhead under the shroud. But it probably won's be multiple warheads, at least not for a decade or more," Schilling said.

Lim Chang-won = cwlim34@ajunews.com

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