New analysis shows North Korea's ICBM is basically useless

Photo: AFP Photo / KCNA via KNS

North Korea shocked the world with a July 4 launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, but according to a new analysis done by Breaking Defence, the missile is basically useless.

While the missile did demonstrate a much longer range than needed to be considered an ICBM, authors Ralph Savelsberg and James Kiessling compared it to other ICBMs and found it much too small to deliver a meaningful payload at important ranges.

Compared to the vehicle North Korea has used to launch satellites, the country’s ICBM — called the KN-14 or Hwasong-14 — is about half as long and significantly thinner. They conclude that the KN-14 can’t really carry a big payload like satellite launch vehicles, but that the satellite launch vehicles can’t withstand being carted around like the KN-14 can.

Additionally, the US shouldn’t count on the North Koreans to accurately target cities. At full range, the authors suggest the KN-14 would only be able to land within about 19 miles of a target.

While North Korea has demonstrated the technology requisite to large a land warhead on the US mainland, the KN-14 simply wasn’t it.

Read the full report here

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