It looks like rogue state North Korea is becoming an increasing danger, and not just to South Korea and Japan and other Pacific neighbors, but even to the U.S. According to US. Admiral Bill Gortney, the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), North Korea has developed the ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads and has a missile system that theoretically could reach the U.S.
More on North Korea’s nuclear missile capacity
Adm. Bill Gortney told reporters in a press conference at the Pentagon on Tuesday, April 7th that, based on the Pentagon’s current assessment, North Korea has the capability to put a miniaturized nuclear warhead on its recently developed KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile. This is scary news, as even the best missile interception systems do not knock down 100% of incoming missiles.
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Military analysts also highlight that the development of highly advanced military capabilities by North Korea places a greater burden on U.S. missile defense systems. Experts also point out that the KN-08 is a road-mobile ICBM, which means that the government can move the launch system around the country relatively quickly. Experts also note that road-mobile systems are relatively easy to hide, and, moreover, that North Korea is very experienced in this kind of game of cat and mouse.
In an analysis from Business Insider, military experts John Schilling and Henry Kan point out that the new North Korean missile has a maximum range of close to 5,600 miles, meaning the missile could theoretically target the West Coast of the United States. That said, the two analysts also emphasized the ICBM is not yet accurate enough to actually target specific U.S. cities even if it did reach the U.S.
Of note, the missile has not been flight tested yet, leading to doubts being expressed by South Korea’s Ministry of Defense and others as to whether the KN-08 can even be equipped with a small enough nuclear warhead for intercontinental flight at this point in its development.
U.S. has strong missile interception capabilities
Gortney followed up on his initial statements by noting that it is better to be prepared for a North Korean strike even if there’s uncertainty as to the actual state of their nuclear and missile technology. Perhaps most importantly, the admiral believes that our military would be able to knock down a North Korean nuclear strike before it got very close to the U.S.
Statements from Admiral Gortney
The admiral did not mince words about North Korea’s dangerous abilities. Pyongyang has “the ability to put a nuclear weapon on a KN-08 and shoot it at the homeland,” he said.
He also elaborated on the additional threat posed by a road-mobile ICBM. “It’s the relocatable target set that really impedes our ability to find, fix, and finish the threat,” Gortney explained. “And as the targets move around and we if don’t have the persistent stare and persistent [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] that we do not have over North Korea at this time, that relocatable nature makes it very difficult for us to counter it.”
When it comes to the ability of the U.S. military to intercept incoming ballistic missiles, Gortney is very confident of success. “Should one get airborne and come at us I’m confident we would be able to knock it down,” Gortney told reporters.
North Korean missiles pose serious threat to Asian neighbors
As reported by ValueWalk, a number of analysts, including the North Korean Futures Project, have pointed out the main threat from North Korean missiles is to its neighbors.
Aerospace engineer John Schilling and colleague Henry Kan say that their research suggests that the more than 1,000 missiles that North Korea currently has in its arsenal are capable of reaching almost all areas of South Korea and Japan. They point out that most of the missiles are based on old, but well-proven Soviet technology.
“North Korea has already achieved a level of delivery system development that will allow it to establish itself as a small nuclear power in the coming years,” reads a paper written by Schilling and Kan published on the North Korean Futures Project website (38 North).