13 June 2017

News Story: Re-entry vehicle last-remaining question for N.K. ICBM - U.S. expert

Hwasong-12 missile (File Photo)
WASHINGTON, June 11 (Yonhap) -- Building a nuclear warhead and a re-entry vehicle durable enough to withstand the extreme heat during a missile's re-entry into the atmosphere is the last-remaining major question North Korea faces in developing a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile, a U.S. expert said.

Jeffrey Lewis, a top expert on North Korean missiles, also said in an article in the Foreign Affairs magazine that the North's Hwasong-12 missile, test-fired last month, showed that its warhead experienced heat loads similar to those of an ICBM and survived.

Mastering warhead miniaturization, as well as re-entry technologies, have long been considered two major challenges Pyongyang must overcome if it wants to develop a nuclear ICBM capable of striking the continental U.S.

Lewis said the North appears to have overcome the miniaturization problem.

"North Korea almost certainly has a compact fission warhead capable of fitting on a future ICBM," he said in the article, adding that with five nuclear tests, the North's claim of mastering miniaturization is in line with the progress that other nuclear powers had made at similar points in the development of their programs.

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