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Analysts: North Korea not bluffing on ICBM launch


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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