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What is True and Not True About North Korea’s Hwasong-14 ICBM: A Technical Evalution

Published by 38 North

By John Schilling

After the frenzy of technical speculation over the successful launch of North Korea’s Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the dust seems to be clearing and the emerging reality is that the North has an unreliable missile that can reach Alaska or Hawaii with a single nuclear warhead, and would be lucky to hit even a city-sized target. However, with a year or two of additional testing and development, 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. In perhaps five years, North Korea may be able to incorporate a modest suite of decoys and penetration aids to challenge US missile defenses. Let’s hope US missile defenses are up to that challenge.

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