North Korea's ballistic missile capability is growing, a U.S. think tank says in a report of threats to U.S. national security. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 18 (UPI) -- North Korea may have developed intercontinental ballistic missiles with sufficient atmospheric reentry capabilities that can reach the United States, a former CIA analyst says.
Bruce Klingner, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said in a new report the CIA has made the assessments of "definite threats to the U.S. homeland."
"Although North Korea has not yet conducted an ICBM flight test that successfully demonstrated a re-entry vehicle capability, the CIA has assessed that Pyongyang's ICBM re-entry vehicles would likely perform adequately if flown on a normal trajectory to continental U.S. targets," Klingner says in the think tank's 2021 Index of U.S. Military Strength.
North Korean missile tests in recent years have led to speculation about whether Pyongyang has mastered atmospheric reentry for projectiles capable of targeting the United States.
In 2017, missile expert Michael Elleman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London said a test of the Hwasong-14 missile as seen in Japanese television footage indicates a vehicle used during the test may not have survived the "rigors of re-entry."
A successful launch would require core ICBM technology capable of withstanding temperatures of 6,000 to 7,000 degrees Celsius, or about 10,000 to 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Klingner said in his report the North has become increasingly dangerous, developing weapons at a steady pace even as Kim Jong Un met three times with U.S. President Donald Trump at historic summits.
"Secretary of State Michael Pompeo repeatedly claimed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had accepted U.N.-mandated complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantling of his nuclear, missile and biological and chemical weapons programs," Klingner says. "However, during the February 2019 Trump-Kim summit, it became clear that Kim has not agreed to do so."
The U.S. State Department continues to call for negotiations with North Korea.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said Wednesday he has hope and confidence the North Korean nuclear issue could be resolved through talks, Yonhap reported.
Biegun made remarks to a South Korean delegation visiting Washington, according to the report.