San Diego likely in range of N Korea ICBM in two years

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

North Korea’s in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile is “likely” to be able to de­liver a 500 kilo­gram war­head to San Diego within two years, a US mon­i­tor­ing group said yes­ter­day, af­ter its launch sparked global alarm last week. The iso­lated, nu­clear-armed state’s first suc­cess­ful ICBM test was de­scribed by leader Kim Jong-Un as a gift to “Amer­i­can b **** rds”. The Hwa­song14 mis­sile is cur­rently es­ti­mated to have a range of 7,000-8,000 kilo­me­ters-enough to reach Alaska or Hawaii-aerospace en­gi­neer John Schilling wrote on the re­spected 38 North web­site, a mon­i­tor­ing project linked to Johns Hop­kins univer­sity.

“If the Hwa­song-14 is put to­gether the way we think it is, it can prob­a­bly do a bit bet­ter than that when all the bugs are worked out,” he wrote, pro­ject­ing a range of 9,700 kilo­me­ters with a 500 kg war­head on board. “The North Kore­ans won’t be able to achieve this per­for­mance to­mor­row, but they likely will even­tu­ally,” he added. At present it would be “lucky to hit even a city-sized tar­get”, he said, cit­ing lim­its to its reen­try tech­nol­ogy.

But with “a year or two of ad­di­tional test­ing and devel­op­ment”, he added, “it will likely be­come a mis­sile that can re­li­ably de­liver a sin­gle nu­clear war­head to tar­gets along the US west coast, pos­si­bly with enough ac­cu­racy to de­stroy soft mil­i­tary tar­gets like naval bases”, such as that at San Diego in Cal­i­for­nia. The North’s mis­sile tech­nol­ogy-which it is banned from devel­op­ing by the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil-has ad­vanced rapidly un­der Kim, ramp­ing up ten­sions be­tween Py­ongyang and Washington.

The im­pov­er­ished state has also staged five nu­clear tests-in­clud­ing two last year. Washington is to pro­pose tougher UN sanc­tions against the North, but an­a­lysts say they will have a lim­ited im­pact un­less China-the North’s sole ma­jor ally and eco­nomic life­line-steps up pres­sure on its neigh­bor. Beijing is re­luc­tant to risk desta­bi­liz­ing the North, fearing a po­ten­tial in­flux of refugees along the fron­tier or US troops sta­tioned on its bor­der in a uni­fied Korea.—AFP

PY­ONGYANG: This image made from un­dated video of a news bul­letin aired by North Korea’s KRT shows North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un waves to the au­di­ence in Py­ongyang. —AP

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