03:32 GMT +331 March 2017
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    People watch a TV news program reporting North Korea's nuclear test at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. (File)

    North Korea Now Has an ICBM That Can Reach US Mainland

    © AP Photo/ Ahn Young-joon
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    North Korea is now in possession of a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the US mainland, according to a senior US military official.

    North Korea has developed an ICBM capable of delivering a nuclear payload to the US mainland, according to an anonymous US military official, who spoke with DefenseTech.com on conditions of anonymity. However, they have not yet solved a key thermal insulation problem, which means their warhead would burn up as it reenters the atmosphere over its target.

    Still, "[i]t's the threat that keeps me awake at night," DefenseTech quotes the official saying.

    Earlier this year North Korea claimed it developed a new mobile ICBM called KN-14, and later displayed it on a military parade in October. Pyongyang also claimed that month that it successfully tested heat insulation materials for the missile, but the US official could not confirm that this technology is already in use.

    According to the official, the United States takes the North Korean threat seriously enough to transfer some of the "authority to counter weapons of mass destruction" from US Strategic Command to the Joint Special Operations Command.

    There is almost no data available about the KN-14 capabilities, Russian defense analyst Vladimir Khrustalev wrote in Lenta.ru in October. However, most experts agree that North Korea's claims have a somewhat solid basis.

    "The most conservative estimates place its maximum theoretical range with a nuclear payload at 5,500-6,500 kilometers, with some saying that it could travel as far as 12,000," Khrustalev wrote.

    The North Korean missile program might become a problem for new US President Donald Trump, according to General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, a former commander of US Forces-Korea and now the supreme allied commander of NATO. He speculated that Trump will have to seriously consider a preemptive strike on North Korea before the Koreans launch their nuclear missile.

    Khrustalev also noted that North Korea's missile program has another purpose, not connected with delivering nuclear warheads.

    "There is a rather ambitious space program," Khrustalev said. "Analysts have often dismissed it as a fantasy, but reality begs to differ."

    Could it be that it is North Korea's space program that actually concerns the United States? This cannot be excluded, judging by the sentiments of another former commander of US Forces-Korea, General Walter Sharp.

    Sharp believes the US must destroy any Korean missile on a launch pad, because the US cannot know for sure whether the missile would carry a satellite or nuclear warhead. Such an aggressive stance is interesting, considering a single ICBM should not be a real problem to the much-advertised US missile defenses, including THAAD in South Korea and Aegis, which can be installed on US military ships across the Pacific Ocean, if these systems are actually able to live up to their reputation.

    Related:

    Russia, US, China, South Korea to Discuss Action on North Korea in December
    Moscow, Tokyo Pledge to Cooperate on UNSC North Korea Resolution - Tokyo
    US Sanctions 7 People, 16 Entities Over North Korea's Nuclear Program
    Tags:
    missile, nuclear weapons, ICBM, US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), US Strategic Command, Vladimir Khrustalev, Walter Sharp, Curtis Scaparrotti, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), United States
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    • avatar
      cast235
      There is no need for PARANOIA. China Russia AS Korea can stop the missile on it's way down easily. U.S can more so. Russia's S 400 can take it down too.
      It would be nice if they toss a missile, get Russia FINALLY MADE, and Russia orders to Bring their leader to Russia. Parade him on RED SQUARE.
      They have no idea the MESS they creating.
      Although, there is no trace of nukes so far... Something smells like rotten fish.
    • FlorianGeyerin reply tocast235(Show commentHide comment)
      cast235,

      A North Korean nuke that knocks out the American power grid ect would be rather interesting :)
    • avatar
      francescoslossel
      militia allways looking for money... cool, They don't hit first!
    • Dar...
      Truth is everyone is speculating on specs as thing stand. Only the Israelis routinely have to down missiles, and they aren't coming in hot from space.

      Let's hope no-one has to find out if their Fiat's have been well spent or not.
    • avatar
      Alan Campbell
      Even with the hostile history between China and the Korean Peninsular, It makes little sense that N. Korea would do so many things without consulting China first. I have heard that there were many hidden negotiations between the west and N. Korea. It will be interesting to see details about them. If the timing of the meetings coincide with the N. Korea military incidents, it could be that the military incidents were simply responses to threats N. Korea got during the meetings.
    • jo6pac
      on conditions of anonymity

      Then holds out hand for more tax payer money to give his friends merchants of death.
    • avatar
      michael
      so, the claim (unsubstantiated) opens the door to green light some incursions by spec. ops? Sounds like a justification exercise to me.
    • avatar
      siljvn9
      I find it find it so stupid when someone seating on their desk and writing no sense just to satisfy their own believe. It is like the news paper in the UK and the US, they write only beautiful article because people like to hear good history about their country. If you have been to North Korea many times like I did, you will knew what is North Korea is all about. Any one who attempt to attack that little nation will have a disappoint surprise, they are well prepared for any eventuality, if you are thinking North Korea is an Iraq, Libya or Ukraine I can tell you, you have no idea what your talking about. They can take South Korea by storm in days, if not hours. And any one who attempt to get into there will be so surprise of what they going to find that they wish never has put their feet there. That is jut for those who see news on TV or papers and going around talking craps.
    • avatar
      peaceactivist2
      What a Fard. A few icmb and get us in the US? Shame to such people. Everyone knew that a few dozen missiles won't land a single one in the nation. Everyone knew that Korean on the north is not that crazy and will never committed suicide as such. Any such statement simply for political and money to spend purpose only
    • Dar...
      Putting everyone's actual ABM capabilities to one side for a moment, what North Korea actually compromise is agreed ABM treaties between the 'real players'.

      North Korea does inadvertently create a real potential problem for China. They give the Americans an excuse to put Block II's in theoretical intercept range of some Chinese ICBM launches sites too. This threatens China's self defence nuclear deterrent capabilities. No wonder they want hyper-sonics so bad.

      American ABM's in Poland and Romania don't have the velocity to catch Russian ICBM's between 300 and 560 seconds from launch, so America would be toast and they know it. Aster 30's from UK, French and Italian naval platforms theoretically could, but would have to be in exactly the right place at the right time to intercept, and if they were they'd be sunk before launch. So no worries for Russia.
    • Zoanthropy
      Nth Korea is not a risk.

      The risk is the invaders, the USA global invaders.
    • avatar
      marcanhalt
      This is just great! We now have another anonymous talking head keeping the rest of us up at night and in suspense. Wait! !2.000 kms you say? Should take care of the secessionists ideas for an independent California, or a washing of the streets of New York! Hmm..maybe I won't be up as late as I thought I was going to be!
    • avatar
      phillipheita
      This is simply propaganda that they want to serve as a pretext to advance the US missile defense shield in Asia, against the "aggressive" Chinese and Russians.
    • avatar
      goldcamshaft
      If the usa is thinking about preemptive strike against North Korea, then it should not be upset if North Korea beats them to the trigger! Intent is the only keyword here.
    • avatar
      phenders8
      What a lot of American twaddle!. In the first place Russia and China do not support America; in fact they are in direct conflict with American globalization in the South China Sea, Ukraine, Syria, Lebanon, Yeman. among other areas. Why do Americans believe this shite that everyone does US bidding? The presstitutes lie, as they did about Libya and Iraq, in fact all the time. China and Nth Korea have a military alliance since 1961 and US sanctions are a sham as they were/are against Russia and Iran. How can the US pre-empt a mobile missle system? A contradiction in terms. Such a platform can be raised and fired in minutes and cannot be intercepted. Further any strike on Korth Korea means it will invade the Sth and China would intervene as did in the Korean war. This is irresponsible journalism and mere American propaganda. Sputnik should be named The Stars and Stripes rather than pose as a Russian sourced news service. As the Trump mask falls we see just another Imperialist, like "Liberal" Obama, who played the coloured card; just as Killery tried to play the feminist card to justify invading Islamic countries. China will not allow Trump to bluff it over tarriffs and its economic dominance via Taiwan. If the billionaire persists (fed tripe from idiots like Bolton) China will invade Taiwan and kick US arse. If an attack is made against China's main land, then kiss your arse goodby as the planet is finished. Trump will be a developer with nothing to develop. How stupid do you think people are? To swallow such ridiculous tripe?
    • avatar
      Erik Trete
      All NK has to do is look around the globe at what the US has done to any country that tries to go its own way and there is no wonder that NK pursues a nuclear deterrent. As isolated as the world has made NK, it is also no wonder that NK pursues a space program. NK does need a dependable global communications capability as it is a global maritime nation, has embassies around the world. You could not very well see the US depending on even European satellites for their state/military communications. Whose satellites should NK depend on?
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