New North Korea ICBMs captured by intelligence, report says

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Jan. 18, 2017 at 9:57 PM
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Two North Korea intercontinental ballistic missiles have been recently detected, and the projectiles appear to be a new model, according to Yonhap.

The new road-mobile ICBMs appear to be shorter than Pyongyang's other versions, including the 19-20 meters in length KN-08 and the 17-18 meter long KN-14, officials told Yonhap.

The missiles may have been deliberately placed in position so that they could first be picked up by the U.S. Navy's X-band radar, which was mobilized from Hawaii in response to recent North Korea threats.

In his New Year's missive Kim Jong Un had said his country is nearly ready to test an ICBM. State media has claimed the test could take place at an arbitrary time.

But the latest missiles are making it a challenge for analysts to ascertain a date for a future ICBM launch.

Various North Korea political anniversaries are to be observed in February and April: Kim's fifth anniversary as the Workers' Party's first secretary on April 11 and the 105th birthday of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung on April 15.

Joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises are to be held in March. Some analysts say North Korea could engage in provocations in response to the drills.

Analysts at Kyungnam University's Far East Research Institute say North Korea's new ICBM is not likely to exceed 3,400 miles. An ICBM that can reach a distance of 4,000-4,300 miles could strike Hawaii, which would trigger a strong U.S. response to North Korea, a scenario even Pyongyang knows would lead to a catastrophic situation for the Kim regime.

If North Korea does choose to launch an ICBM, it is likely to adjust the amount of fuel and engine power to control the missile range, limiting its distance to about 1,200-1,500 miles, according to the report.

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