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Analyst: North Korea ICBM could carry multiple warheads by 2030

By Elizabeth Shim
A handout photo made available by the official North Korean Central News Agency allegedly shows the North Korean intercontinental ballistic rocket Hwasong-14 being launched at an undisclosed location in North Korea, July 4. A multiple-warhead Hwasong-14 could be ready by 2030, a U.S. analyst says. File Photo by KCNA/EPA
A handout photo made available by the official North Korean Central News Agency allegedly shows the North Korean intercontinental ballistic rocket Hwasong-14 being launched at an undisclosed location in North Korea, July 4. A multiple-warhead Hwasong-14 could be ready by 2030, a U.S. analyst says. File Photo by KCNA/EPA

July 11 (UPI) -- North Korea may develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads by 2030, according to a U.S. analyst.

Writing for 38 North, a Johns Hopkins University website dedicated to North Korea issues, John Schilling states the "accelerated" pace at which North Korea has been conducting its missile tests, combined with the fact the regime has "conducted only two nuclear tests in the past four years," could make it likely a "multiple-warhead Hwasong-14" could be ready by 2030, but not before then.

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The analysis counters claims the missile is already capable of carrying several warheads, according to Schilling.

"It may eventually be able to carry a modest suite of decoys or penetration aids, though probably not for several years," he states. "We expect there will eventually be more than just a single warhead under the shroud. But it probably won't be multiple warheads, at least not for a decade or more."

Schilling also said the United States' national missile defense system in its current state is "limited and unreliable," and that it works "only about half the time in tests."

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The U.S. military, however, could step up defense improvements, posing challenges for North Korea's operational ICBMs, he said.

In Seoul, South Korean government agencies are challenging North Korea's claim of a "successful" Fourth of July ICBM test.

The National Intelligence Service said Tuesday Pyongyang has not fully secured the development of an ICBM, according to South Korean lawmaker Yi Wan-young.

It is not yet clear whether the projectile achieved atmospheric reentry, Seoul's spy agency stated.

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