During a massive military parade in North Korea, Kim Jong-un rolled out a fearsome missile that can reportedly pack multiple nuclear weapons into a single projectile that could likely attack any US city through overwhelming defense systems.
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The despot apparently learned from the former Soviet Union that adding warheads to a single system is more effective than building more missiles, according to Ankit Panda, author of Kim Jong-un and the Bomb: Survival and Deterrence in North Korea.
“They can saturate the defense by having more re-entry vehicles than the US ever hopes to defend,” Panda, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Monday at a web seminar for the South Korea-based NK News.
Panda estimated that the Hwasong-16 could hold up to four warheads. The Hwasong-15, which Kim launched in November 2017, was believed to have a single warhead. Bloomberg reported.
The Hermit Kingdom would have to launch 11 ICBMs with a warhead to have at least a 1 in 3 chance of dodging missile defense systems and detonating a thermonuclear device in an American city, Panda said.
The more warheads it can fire, the greater the chance it will overpower U.S. defense systems, he added.
“If North Koreans have questions about the performance of their own re-entry vehicles, mounting multiple re-entry vehicles on a ballistic missile simply increases the likelihood that one of them will detonate successfully,” said Panda.
Weapons experts estimate that the new liquid-fuel missile is around 26 meters, about two to three meters longer than the Hwasong-15.
It’s also wider, making it the world’s largest road mobile ICBM of its kind.
The rogue regime displayed four of the new missiles during the parade, each carried by a never-before-seen 11-axle truck.
“It’s huge,” said Melissa Hanham, a weapons expert and deputy director of the Open Nuclear Network, who called the missile “a monster.”
Speaking at the ruling Labor Party’s 75th birthday parade, Kim said he would only use his arsenal if provoked.
“But if any forces try to use their military might against us, I will preventively mobilize our strongest offensive force and punish them,” he said.
Hwasong-16’s engines may have been tested in December, but their real performance cannot be assessed until North Korea actually launches them at political risk to Kim as it would violate international sanctions.
A test would also undermine President Trump’s insistence that his personal diplomacy led Kim to stop long-range missile test launches.
If North Korea tested the missile, it would likely send it on a trajectory to peak about 5,000 kilometers – 12 times higher than the International Space Station, Panda said.
Xu Tianran, analyst for Open Nuclear Network, said The sun that the missile “could probably reach the entire United States with a very large, high-yielding nuclear warhead or two or more warheads if the warheads were smaller and lighter.”
Markus Garlauskas, a former US intelligence officer for North Korea, said the missile – with an estimated yield of more than 2,000 megatons – would remove any doubts that Pyongyang could hit the US, the British news agency said.
“If the Hwasong-15 could carry a ‘super-large’ nuclear warhead anywhere in the US, the natural question would be what this larger missile can carry,” he said Reuters.
Retired CIA analyst Bruce Klingner of the Heritage Foundation said, “The clear message was that contrary to US claims, the North Korean nuclear threat has not been resolved.”
This article originally appeared in the New York Post and was reproduced with permission.
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