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North Korea's claim of ICBM test plausible, experts say

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NewsHubSEOUL – North Korea has been working through 2016 on developing components for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), making the isolated nation’s claim that it was close to a test-launch plausible, international weapons experts said on Monday.
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.
While Pyongyang is close to a test, it is likely to take some years to perfect the weapon.
Once fully developed, a North Korean ICBM could threaten the continental United States, which is around 9,000 km (5,500 miles) from the North. ICBMs have a minimum range of about 5,500 km (3,400 miles), but some are designed to travel 10,000 km (6,200 miles) or further.
North Korea’s state media regularly threatens the United States with a nuclear strike, but before 2016 Pyongyang 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 realize,” said Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the U. S.-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California.
She 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 it claims to be able to miniaturize a nuclear device have never been independently verified.
The isolated nation has achieved this progress despite U.

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