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North Korea's 'new strategic weapon' could be MIRV, report says

North Korea's Sohae Satellite Launching Station is under scrutiny following messages from Pyongyang regarding a "new strategic weapon." File Photo by Jeon Heon-kyun/EPA-EFE
North Korea's Sohae Satellite Launching Station is under scrutiny following messages from Pyongyang regarding a "new strategic weapon." File Photo by Jeon Heon-kyun/EPA-EFE

Jan. 7 (UPI) -- North Korean advancements in the development of multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles cannot be ruled out, according to a South Korea parliamentary committee.

Lee Eun-jae, a lawmaker with the main opposition Liberty Korea Party and a member of the National Assembly's Intelligence Committee, suggested the "new strategic weapon" North Korean leader Kim Jong Un mentioned in a recent statement could be a reference to a MIRV, News 1 reported Tuesday.

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"We asked intelligence authorities whether the new strategic weapon was a MIRV, and they said the possibility 'cannot be ruled out'," Lee said, according to the report.

In a MIRV, the main rocket motor, or booster, pushes a "bus" into a ballistic fight path. Using on-board rocket motors and a computerized inertial guidance system, the bus moves along the flight path, during which it delivers a re-entry vehicle containing a warhead to a target. It then maneuvers to a different trajectory to release another warhead. As many 14 warheads can be released.

Multiple warheads can be launched, and the projectile is difficult to intercept because sometimes "fake warheads" are mixed in with deadly weapons, the report says.

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Lee also said North Korea is "constantly upgrading" its intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities.

Concerns grew in late 2019 North Korea could test an ICBM at Sohae Satellite Launching Station after the regime tested what may have been a large liquid-propellant rocket engine in early December.

Vann H. Van Diepen, an analyst writing for 38 North, has said North Korea could pursue less technically demanding MRVs, or multiple re-entry vehicles, before trying MIRVs.

North Korea may be taking note of increased wariness in the South.

Pyongyang propaganda service Meari said Tuesday South Korean politicians and authorities are "reeling from persecution complex" and are paranoiacs for talking up North Korea provocations.

Meari called South Koreans "sinful" for their cautious approach to North Korea's weapons development and condemned Seoul for maintaining a 24-hour watch over the latest developments.

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