The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

The com­man­der of U.S. mil­i­tary forces in the Pa­cific said this week that North Korea’s KN-08 mis­sile — a new road-mo­bile, in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal-range weapon — is a se­ri­ous threat with the po­ten­tial to hit the United States with a nu­clear war­head.

The com­ments by Navy Adm. Sa­muel Lock­lear to for­eign re­porters on Tues­day were made as a re­port pro­vided new de­tails on the six KN-08 mis­siles — ini­tially thought in 2012 to be mock-ups — that now ap­pear to be hard-to-lo­cate and easy-to-fire mo­bile in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles (ICBMs).

“From a mil­i­tary plan­ning per­spec­tive, when I see KN-08 road-mo­bile mis­siles that ap­pear in a North Korean mil­i­tary pa­rade, I am bound to take that se­ri­ous, both for not only the penin­sula, but also the re­gion, as well as my own home­land, should we spec­u­late that those mis­siles po­ten­tially have the tech­nol­ogy to reach out,” Adm. Lock­lear said.

North Korea wants the United States to be­lieve it has strate­gic mis­siles, and the strate­gic threat can­not be ig­nored, he said.

The regime in Py­ongyang has con­ducted three un­der­ground nu­clear tests and sev­eral long-range mis­sile tests.

But U.S. in­tel­li­gence has not con­firmed that North Korea is able to minia­tur­ize a nu­clear de­vice that can be fired atop lon­grange mis­siles. North Korea is be­lieved to have small war­head de­signs that were pur­chased in the mid-2000s through the covert Pak­istani nu­clear sup­pli­ers group headed by A.Q. Khan.

“Whether [the mo­bile mis­siles] are real or not, or whether they have that ca­pa­bil­ity or not, the North Korea regime wants us to think they do, and so we plan for that,” the four-star ad­mi­ral said.

U.S. mil­i­tary forces have ro­bust mis­sile de­fenses aboard Aegis-equipped war­ships in the re­gion and long-range in­ter­cep­tors in Alaska and Cal­i­for­nia. The mil­i­tary also is co­op­er­at­ing with Ja­pan to de­velop re­gional de­fenses against North Korean mis­siles.

Adm. Lock­lear said mil­i­tary plans to de­fend against KN-08 at­tacks tar­get­ing the U.S. home­land is “my No. 1 job.” De­fend­ing al­lies in the re­gion is the next pri­or­ity.

“And we are com­mit­ted to have the as­sets avail­able to do that in a way that pro­tects peace and pros­per­ity in the re­gion and our own peo­ple,” he said dur­ing an ap­pear­ance at the For­eign Press Center in Wash­ing­ton.

The KN-08 was un­veiled dur­ing a mil­i­tary pa­rade in Py­ongyang last year, car­ried atop a Chi­nese-made trans­porter-erec­tor launcher.

U.S. of­fi­cials said the launch­ers were ex­ported il­le­gally by Bei­jing and the trans­fer rep­re­sents a mil­i­tar­ily sig­nif­i­cant vi­o­la­tion of U.N. sanc­tions against North Korea. China has told the United Na­tions that it ex­ported the launch­ers as lum­ber haulers and did not know they would be con­verted to mis­sile launch­ers.

North Korea so far has not con­ducted a test launch of a KN-08, mak­ing the mis­sile’s op­er­a­tional sta­tus un­cer­tain.

How­ever, the Pen­tagon’s Joint Staff con­cluded ear­lier this year in a clas­si­fied as­sess­ment that the KN-08 poses a di­rect threat to the United States and that it has the ca­pa­bil­ity of reach­ing the western part of the coun­try with a nu­clear pay­load.

Mean­while, a North Korea-fo­cused think tank this week re­ported that re­cent im­ages of the KN-08s bol­ster ar­gu­ments that the weapons are mis­sile sys­tems and not mock-ups, as ini­tially as­sessed by some pri­vate an­a­lysts.

The pub­li­ca­tion 38 North, pro­duced by the U.S.Korea In­sti­tute at Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity’s School of Ad­vanced In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, re­ported that new im­ages of the six known KN-08s in­di­cate the mis­siles show they are not mock-ups.

The mis­siles are se­cured prop­erly to their mo­bile launch­ers. They have uni­form fuel ports, and their nose cones ap­peared bet­ter ma­chined than those shown in ear­lier im­ages.

The re­port con­cludes that the KN-08 “is a de­vel­op­men­tal road-mo­bile ICBM of lim­ited ca­pa­bil­ity but still able to threaten the con­ti­nen­tal United States.” all elec­tron­ics in ar­eas up to 1,000 miles from the point of det­o­na­tion were dis­rupted.

In re­cent years, EMP sim­u­la­tors have evolved from test equip­ment — used to check the sur­viv­abil­ity of elec­tron­ics on nu­clear and other weapons — to of­fen­sive weapons that can cre­ate EMP waves with­out nu­clear blasts. The United States, China, Rus­sia and North Korea are be­lieved to be work­ing on EMP weapons.

For­mer CIA Di­rec­tor R. James Woolsey Jr. and Peter Pry, a for­mer U.S. in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer who took part in a con­gres­sional EMP com­mis­sion, stated in a re­cent ar­ti­cle that North Korea’s long-range mis­siles ap­pear “ca­pa­ble of mak­ing a cat­a­strophic nu­clear EMP at­tack on the United States.”

North Korea’s 2012 satel­lite launch shows that a war­head-equipped satel­lite in po­lar or­bit at a height of around 310 miles could be det­o­nated over U.S. ter­ri­tory.

The satel­lite bomb would be “ideal for mak­ing an EMP at­tack that places the [dis­rup­tion] field over the en­tire con­tigu­ous 48 United States,” they wrote on the Fam­ily Se­cu­rity Mat­ters web­site.


Adm. Sa­muel Lock­lear, com­man­der of U.S. forces in the Pa­cific, says he takes North Korea’s KN-08 mis­siles se­ri­ously, whether they are mock-ups or not.

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