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Analysts: North Korea not bluffing on ICBM launch

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NewsHubNorth Korea worked through 2016 on developing components for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), making the isolated nation’s claim that it is close to a test-launch plausible, weapons experts say.
Once fully developed, a North Korean ICBM could threaten the continental United States about 9,000km away.
Pyongyang’s state media regularly threatens the US with a nuclear strike, but before 2016 the North had been assumed to be a long way from being capable of doing so.
“The bottom line is Pyongyang is much further along in their missile development than most people realise,” said Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the US-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California.
Kim Jong-un says close to testing long-range missile
North Korea has been testing rocket engines and heat-shields for an ICBM while developing the technology to guide a missile after re-entry into the atmosphere following a lift-off, the experts said on Monday.
While Pyongyang is close to a test, it is likely to take some years to perfect the weapon.
Hanham said the North’s test in April of a large liquid-fuel engine that could propel an ICBM was a major development.
“The liquid engine test was astounding,” Hanham said. “For years we knew that North Korea had a Soviet R-27 missile engine design. They re-engineered the design of that engine to double its propulsion. ”
North Korea has said it is capable of mounting a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile, but its claims to be able to miniaturise a nuclear device have never been independently verified.
The isolated nation has achieved this progress despite UN Security Council imposed sanctions for its nuclear tests and long-range rocket launches dating back to 2006.

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