A TOP expert has claimed North Korea’s military is just one step away from launching a nuclear–tipped intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the US.
Jeffrey Lewis, an American expert on Kim’s Jong-un’s military, believes the only hurdle left is to develop a warhead capable of handling the extreme heat encountered during re-entry into our atmosphere.
Mr Lewis said: “North Korea almost certainly has a compact fission warhead capable of fitting on a future ICBM.
“The major question now is not whether the warhead is small enough to mount on an ICBM but whether it is rugged enough to survive the shock, vibration and extreme temperatures that a nuclear warhead would experience on an intercontinental trajectory, in which it would be shot into space and then re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
“The warhead fitted to the Hwasong-12 experienced heat loads similar to those of an ICBM (although for a shorter period of time) and survived.
“Separately, North Korea has published images of an apparently successful ground test of a re-entry vehicle last year.”
In recent months, North Korea has rapidly stepped up its missile launch programme.
Four new weapons systems have been tested lately, including new super-accurate short-range ballistic missiles.
Its new intermediate-range ballistic missile are said to be able to hit US bases in Guam and NK has also tested new anti-ship cruise missiles.
And Mr Lewis fears the rogue state could soon be “knocking on the door” of the US with new super-powered ICBMs – despite some claiming Kim’s missile programme is overrated.
Mr Lewis added: “Similar doubts were expressed about China’s nuclear warheads in the 1960s, prompting China’s leaders to arm a missile with a live nuclear weapon and launch it across the country to dispel any lingering doubts. Fortunately, North Korea has not chosen to take such a step.”
Last week, NK today said it “fully rejects” the latest UN sanctions against its citizens as a “hostile act” and will continue its nuclear weapons development without delay.
The UN Security Council on Friday expanded targeted sanctions against Kim Jong-un’s rogue state after its repeated missile tests – the first such resolution since President Donald Trump took office.
Last week, Kim’s country warned it can now reduce the “Devil’s Den” of America to rubble and is capable of launching intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) at the US mainland at any time.
The Pentagon then successfully tested a rocket interceptor which it hopes will bring down any ICBMs from the communist state.
This missile launch in California was a response to the increasingly threatening rhetoric.