North Korea Making Missile Able To Hit The U.S.

Intelligence indicates that North Korea is moving ahead with building its first road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, an easily hidden weapon capable of hitting the United States, according to Obama administration officials. The intelligence was revealed in a classified Capitol Hill briefing last month. Its existence was made public in a letter to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta from five House Republicans. “As members of the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces …, we write out of concerns about new intelligence concerning foreign developments in long-range ballistic missile development, specifically ballistic missiles capable of attacking the United States,” the Nov. 17 letter said. “We believe this new intelligence reiterates the need for the administration to correct its priorities regarding missile defenses, which should have, first and foremost, the missile defense of the homeland.”

Officials familiar with the intelligence said government analysts believe the missile could be a variant of North Korea’s new Musudan intermediate-range missile, first disclosed publicly in October 2010. The CIA assesses that North Korea also has a substantial arsenal of chemical weapons. North Korea was a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but withdrew in 2003, citing the failure of the United States to fulfill its end of the Agreed Framework, a 1994 agreement between the states to limit North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, begin normalization of relations, and help North Korea supply some energy needs through nuclear reactors.

On October 9, 2006, the North Korean government issued an announcement that it had successfully conducted a nuclear test for the first time. Both the United States Geological Survey and Japanese seismological authorities detected an earthquake with a preliminary estimated magnitude of 4.3 in North Korea, corroborating some aspects of the North Korean claims.

In April 2009, reports surfaced that North Korea has become a “fully fledged nuclear power”, an opinion shared by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei. On May 25, 2009, North Korea conducted another nuclear test, which is believed to have been the cause of a magnitude 4.7 seismic event. Although there is no official information about the test’s location, it is believed that it happened in the north-eastern region near Kilju, the site of North Korea’s first nuclear test.

Other intelligence indicates that the new ICBM may be under development at a huge missile testing facility on North Korea’s western coast. Prior to its mobile ICBM, North Korea’s long-range missiles were the pad-launched Taepodong-1 prototype, and the Taepodong-2 (TD-2) dual-use ICBM and space launcher. Mobile missiles are difficult for tracking radar to locate, making them easier to hide. They also can be set up and launched much more quickly than missiles fired from silos or launchpads. China’s military recently deployed two new mobile ICBMs, the DF-31 and DF-31A. It is not known whether North Korea’s new mobile missile is based on Chinese technology. China in the past has provided missile technology to North Korea, a fraternal communist ally.

In 2006, there were eight sites identified as potential test explosion sites for current (and future) tests according to a statement by the South Korean Parliament. These sites are distinguished from a number of other nuclear materials production facilities in that they are thought to be most closely identified with a military, or potentially military purpose:

1. Hamgyong Bukdo (North Hamgyong) Province – 2 Sites:

* Chungjinsi – Nuclear fuel storage site, military base & unidentified underground facility

* Kiljugun – Extensive military buildup with motorized troop formations and construction of new advanced underground facility – Site of May 25, 2009 Nuclear Test.

* Phunggyere – Site of October 9, 2006 Nuclear Test

2. Chagangdo Province – 1 Site: Kanggyesi – Production center of North Korea’s advanced equipment & munitions since 1956. Also, extensive intelligence of highly advanced underground facility.

3. Pyongan Bukdo (North Pyongan) Province – 4 Sites:

* Yongbyonsi – 2 Sites – Location of Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center, and the facility’s Experimental Test Explosion facility and two unidentified underground facilities. In addition, there is a gas-graphic reactor, HE test site, nuclear fuel fabrication site, nuclear waste storage site

* Kusungsi – Between 1997 and September 2002, approximately 70 text explosions of North Korean munitions took place. Also, existence of underground facility

* Taechongun – 200MWe Nuclear Energy Plant construction site. Location of unidentified underground facility and nuclear arms/energy related facilities known to exist

4. Pyongan Namdo (South Pyongan) Province – 1 Site: Pyongsungsi – Location of National Science Academy and extensive underground facility whose purpose is not known.

On April 25, 2009, however, the North Korean government announced that the country’s nuclear facilities have been reactivated, and that spent fuel reprocessing for arms-grade plutonium has been restored.

On May 25, 2009, North Korea confirmed to have performed a “successful” underground nuclear test. It was the second such test and it was said to be much more powerful than the first. The same day a successful short range missile test was also conducted. The confirmation came little more than an hour after the U.S. Geological Survey reported a magnitude 4.7 seismic disturbance on the proximity of the site of North Korea’s first nuclear test conducted in October 2006, other agencies such as the International Data Center of the CTBTO, and the Japanese Meteorological Center, also registered the seismic variations. North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency said the test was conducted as part of the measures to bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defense in every way.

In May 2010, the Rodong Sinmun announced in an article that North Korea had successfully carried out a nuclear fusion reaction. The aforementioned article, referring to the alleged test as “a great event that demonstrated the rapidly developing cutting-edge science and technology of the DPRK”, also makes mention of efforts by North Korean scientists to develop “safe and environment-friendly new energy”, and made no mention of plans to use fusion technology in its nuclear weapons program.

North Korea’s Successfully tested

* KN-1 – a short-range anti-ship cruise missile. Its range is estimated to be around 160 kilometers, and most probably it’s an improved version of the Soviet Termit missile (NATO codename “Styx”).

* KN-2 Toksa – a short-range, solid-fueled, highly accurate mobile missile, modified copy of the Soviet OTR-21. Unknown number in service, apparently deployed either in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

* Hwasong-5 – initial Scud modification. Road-mobile, liquid-fueled missile, with an estimated range of 330 km. It has been tested successfully. It is believed that North Korea has deployed some 150–200 such missiles on mobile launchers.

* Hwasong-6 – later Scud modification. Similar to the Hwasong-5, yet with an increased range (550–700 km) and a smaller warhead (600–750 kg). Apparently this is the most widely deployed North Korean missile, with at least 400 missiles in use.

* Nodong-1 – larger and more advanced Scud modification. Liquid-fueled, road-mobile missile with a 650 kg warhead. First production variants had inertial guidance, later variants featured GPS guidance, which improves CEP accuracy to 190–250 m. Range is estimated to be between 1,300 and 1,600 km.

* Nodong-2 – further improved variant of the Nodong-1, successfully tested in 2006. Range is estimated at about 2,000 km.

* Taepodong-1 – two-stage Scud-derived missile. Has been tested with a satellite payload in 1998. The satellite failed, but the missile apparently flew without significant problems, therefore it is North Korea’s longest-ranged operational missile with its 2,500 km maximum range. According to some analysts, the Taepodong-1 could have an intercontinental range of nearly 6,000 km with a third stage and a payload of less than 100 kg.

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