News / Asia

    Report: North Korea's ICBM Prototypes Getting 'Scary Good'

    FILE - A military truck carrying a missile parades during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 27, 2013.
    FILE - A military truck carrying a missile parades during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 27, 2013.
    VOA News
    A top research group says prototype ballistic missiles seen at recent North Korean military parades may be more advanced than earlier believed, and may even be sophisticated enough to threaten the U.S. west coast.

    Many Western analysts dismissed the KN-08 missiles as primitive, non-operational mockups when they appeared in photos at Pyongyang military parades in April 2012 and again in July of this year, but the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said Tuesday that the missiles, even if fakes, appear to be getting more advanced, and have reached the point of being what it called "scary good."

    The institute's report said the missile mockups appear to show North Korea can assemble components and technologies "good enough to produce missiles with theoretical ranges from 5,500 to over 11,000 kilometers." That would easily be far enough for North Korea to make good on its threats of being able to strike the U.S. mainland with a nuclear warhead.

    The report cautioned the KN-08s are "almost certainly" non-operational and would need to be tested at least once. It cautioned, though, that a test could occur any time, given the advanced state of the mockup hardware and recent satellite photos showing upgrades at North Korea's main missile launch site.

    North Korea is already believed to have cleared a number of technological hurdles needed for an ICBM when it used its Unha-3 carrier to successfully launch a satellite into space last December. The move was portrayed by the North as a peaceful scientific mission but condemned by the U.N. as a banned long-range missile test.

    There are other obstacles North Korea would face in delivering a nuclear warhead to the United States. It is unclear if North Korea's nuclear bombs are small and reliable enough to be placed on such a long-range missile. Experts say the North also still needs to make progress on designing a re-entry vehicle that could guide any intercontinental ballistic missile back to Earth after reaching orbit.

    However, the U.S.-Korea Institute said the North's missile technology seems to be getting more advanced. It said that at the 2012 parade, the KN-08 missiles on display had several design inconsistences and sported warheads "that appeared to be quite shoddily made." However, a little over a year later, at the July parade, it said the most obvious issues seemed to have been corrected.

    Some have suggested the KN-08s are a hoax, meant to extract more foreign concessions in negotiations over North Korea's nuclear weapons program, but the U.S.-Korea Institute's paper said the simplest explanation is that the missile "may be exactly what it appears to be: a developmental road-mobile ICBM of limited capability but still able to threaten the continental United States."

    You May Like

    Greenpeace Leak: US-EU Trade Deal Would Favor Corporations

    Activist group leaks classified documents to 'shine a light' on talks that could create the world's largest bilateral trade and investment pact

    Video Ethiopia's Drought Takes Toll on Children

    East African country’s crops failed in 2015, creating food shortages for 10 million – including 6 million children whose development may be compromised

    What Your First Name Reveals About Who You Vote For

    People named Chad are more likely to be Republicans and Jonathans are usually Democrats

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora