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    People watch a TV news channel airing an image of North Korea's ballistic missile launch published in North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul. (File)

    CIA's Forecast to Come True if North Korea Conducts at Least Five ICBM Tests

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    North Korea is said to be on the verge of creating an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) outfitted with a nuclear warhead. Russian defense analyst Vladimir Khrustalev told Sputnik Korea that Pyongyang appears to be capable of acquiring the weapon in approximately two years if it conducts five tests annually.

    "If North Korea has a 15-meter-long missile with the range of 5,500 kilometers, then it means that Pyongyang has reached a level of technological development comparable to that of the USSR in the 1960s-1970s when it comes to ICBM technology," he said.

    Khrustalev suggested that if North Korea has nuclear warheads, it will have to conduct tests to make sure that they can reach their designated target.

    "Taking into account the level of technological development in the country, if North Korea conducts five tests annually, it will take approximately two years [to finalize the weapon]," he said. "If they conduct one test per year, the [ICBM] will be ready in five years. The more tests they conduct, the sooner they will achieve the final outcome."

    The analyst further said that North Korea missile program has been designed to serve as a deterrent against Washington's military capabilities, not South Korea. However, Seoul "has used this as a pretext to increase defense spending," he said.

    Earlier this week, John E. McLaughlin, the former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), told the US House Armed Services Committee that North Korea could complete an ICBM with a nuclear warhead before Donald Trump's first term comes to an end. This could even happen within two years, he suggested.

    "In the last few years … a series of developments has moved the isolated state up near the top of the US 'nightmare list.' First, the North's ability to project military power far beyond its borders has grown dangerously. Second, its leader is not just implacably hostile to the United States – he is also much more volatile and unpredictable than his predecessors," he added.

    McLaughlin further said that Pyongyang is "within range" of creating an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching US soil. "Though it's hard to say when it will be able to put all this together, the goal is now clearly within reach," he emphasized.

    However, Kim Dongyeop, a professor of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University told Sputnik that Pyongyang has so far not tested a missile with a range of 5,500 kilometers or more.

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    Tags:
    missile test, intercontinental ballistic missile, ballistic missile, missiles, military technology, Vladimir Khrustalev, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), South Korea, United States
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