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North Korea says missile ready for mass production, U.S. questions progress


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North Korea says missile ready for mass production, U.S. questions progress

By Ju-min Park and Phil Stewart

REUTERS

 

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FILE PHOTO: A view of the test-fire of Pukguksong-2 guided by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on the spot, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang February 13, 2017. KCNA/Handout via Reuters/File Photo

 

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea said on Monday it successfully tested what it called an intermediate-range ballistic missile, which met all technical requirements and could now be mass-produced, although U.S. officials and experts questioned the extent of its progress.

 

The United States, which has condemned repeated North Korean missile launches, said Sunday's launch of what North Korea dubbed the Pukguksong-2 was of a "medium-range" missile, and U.S.-based experts doubted the reliability of the relatively new solid-fuel type after so few tests.

 

U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the test did not demonstrate a new capability, or one that could threaten the United States directly. But the test was North Korea's second in a week and South Korea's new liberal government said it dashed its hopes for peace.

 

U.S. officials have been far less sanguine about the test of a long-range KN-17, or Hwasong-12, missile just over a week ago, which U.S. officials believe survived re-entry to some degree.

 

North Korea said that launch tested the capability to carry a "large-size heavy nuclear warhead" and put the U.S. mainland within "sighting range."

 

Western experts say the Hwasong-12 test did appear to have advanced North Korea's aim of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, even if it is still some way off from achieving that capability.

 

The U.N. Security Council is due to meet on Tuesday behind closed doors to discuss Sunday's test, which defies Security Council resolutions and sanctions. The meeting was called at the request of the United States, Japan and South Korea.

 

Washington has been trying to persuade China to agree to new sanctions on North Korea, which has conducted dozens of missile firings and tested two nuclear bombs since the start of last year.

 

U.S. President Donald Trump has warned that a "major, major conflict" with North Korea is possible over its weapons programmes, although U.S. officials say tougher sanctions, not military force, are the preferred option.

 

North Korea's state news agency, KCNA, said the latest missile test was supervised by leader Kim Jong Un and verified the reliability of Pukguksong-2's solid-fuel engine, stage separation and late-stage guidance for a nuclear warhead. It said data was recorded by a device mounted on the warhead.

 

'PRIDE'

 

"Saying with pride that the missile's rate of hits is very accurate and Pukguksong-2 is a successful strategic weapon, he (Kim) approved the deployment of this weapon system for action," KCNA said.

 

"Now that its tactical and technical data met the requirements of the Party, this type of missile should be rapidly mass-produced in a serial way ..., he said."

 

KCNA said Kim was able to view the Earth from a camera mounted on the missile. "Supreme leader Kim Jong Un said it feels grand to look at the Earth from the rocket we launched and the entire world looks so beautiful," KCNA said.

 

South Korea's military said the missile flew about 500 km (310 miles), reaching an altitude of 560 km (350 miles).

 

It said the test would have provided more "meaningful data" for North Korea's missile programme, but further analysis was necessary to determine whether Pyongyang had mastered the technology needed to stop the warhead burning up on re-entering the Earth's atmosphere.

 

U.S.-based experts said the Pukguksong-2 would have a maximum range of about 1,500 km (930 miles) and questioned North Korea's assertion that the reliability of the solid-fuel missile had been proven, given limited testing.

 

"Entering mass production this early in the development phase is risky, but perhaps a risk North Korea feels comfortable managing," said Michael Elleman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

 

Jeffrey Lewis, of the California-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said North Korea would probably continue to test the missile after deployment, fixing flaws as they emerged.

 

The use of solid fuel presents advantages for weapons because it is more stable and can be transported easily allowing for a launch at very short notice from mobile launchers.

 

Developing longer-range solid fuel missiles, however, was highly complicated and would "take time, lots of it," Elleman said.

 

John Schilling, a missile expert contributing to Washington's 38 North think tank, estimated it would take until at least 2020 for North Korea to be able to develop an ICBM capable of reaching the U.S. mainland and until 2025 for one powered by solid fuel.

 

North Korea's current missiles already pose a threat to South Korea and Japan and the tens of thousands of U.S. troops based in both countries.

 

Daniel Russel, Washington's former top diplomat for Asia, said Pyongyang's aim appeared to be to convince the United States and the rest of the world of the need to accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state.

 

"The intended message to the United States is that your pressure campaign won't work and we’ll see your sanctions and raise you yet another advance in our ballistic missile program," Russel, now diplomat in residence at the Asia Society Policy Institute, told Reuters.

 

On Sunday U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson termed North Korea's missile testing "disappointing, disturbing" and said economic and diplomatic pressure would continue.

 

Japan's chief Cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said on Monday it was important to cut North Korea’s foreign currency earnings and to block shipments and technology transfers that aid North Korea’s nuclear missile development.

 

China repeated its call for all parties to exercise restraint and not let tension mount further.

 

(Additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko in Tokyo, Ben Blanchard in Beijing and David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney and James Dalgleish)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2017-05-23
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Why doesn't Kim Jong Un do away with all the sabre rattling and just say "USA I dare you to attack me at the following locations". It would do away with all of the drama and expectations but get the job done. One nations lunatic head dealing with anothers. What could possibly go wrong.

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2 hours ago, webfact said:

KCNA said Kim was able to view the Earth from a camera mounted on the missile. "Supreme leader Kim Jong Un said it feels grand to look at the Earth from the rocket we launched and the entire world looks so beautiful," KCNA said.

Somebody needs to tell Kim he can marvel at the Earth on Youtube.  Much cheaper.

 

 

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43 minutes ago, williamgeorgeallen said:

well i am not a rocket scientist but isnt this proof of weapons of mas destruction america. seems like far more proof  than you had in iraq. finally here is a dictator that should actually be removed and you are sitting on your hands. whats the hold up?

He might actually be able to fight back . Thats the hold up. The others were paper Tigers

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1 hour ago, williamgeorgeallen said:

well i am not a rocket scientist but isnt this proof of weapons of mas destruction america. seems like far more proof  than you had in iraq. finally here is a dictator that should actually be removed and you are sitting on your hands. whats the hold up?

Besides Nth Korea having a formidable  military strike and counter strike capacity, basically Russia and China have said hands off Nth Korea. 

They would veto any security council meeting.

Last time the US and a few skirt tail US serf nations attacked the Nth in 1950, China stepped in, kicked ass all the way back to where the invasion started and US screamed for an armistice.

Russia supported the Nth too.

Nothing has changed. Nth Korea is a buffer to China and Russia. Unless, China and Russia approve of de nuking the Nth, nothing can and will happen.

 

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7 hours ago, 55Jay said:

Somebody needs to tell Kim he can marvel at the Earth on Youtube.  Much cheaper.

 

If one believes that shit which is 'live', the person believes anything.

 

Btw I have couple Sun stones for sale, would you be interested? 

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8 hours ago, sweatalot said:

USA, China, South Korea, Japan .... how long are they going  to wait?

Need China to help. China isn't gonna care until South Korea and Japan start to develop their own Nuclear Arsenal. 

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Every U.S. President has kicked the can down the road for the next administration to deal with.  Beginning with:

 

"if and when they try to develop nuclear weapons"  

to

if and when they develop a  intercontinental ballistic missile.

to

If and when they develop a miniaturized  nuclear warhead that can be put on a  ballistic missile . 

to

if and when they can develop a missile that can reach U.S. soil.  Meaning Hawaii. 

to 

if and when they can develop nuclear missile that can reach the U.S. mainland. 

 

Where does it end ?

 

 

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2 hours ago, oilinki said:

If one believes that shit which is 'live', the person believes anything.

 

Btw I have couple Sun stones for sale, would you be interested? 

The screen says "live".  I did not. 

 

Take it up with NASA.  Or Youtube.  Good luck. 

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I think that as others have noted, any strike against NK is going to have major consequences.   It's not a wise idea to attack a country without the consent of the neighbors.   Unless SK consents, then such an attack is highly unlikely. 

 

Whether China simply wants a buffer or not, is debatable.   China is progressing quickly, but I very much doubt they want a nuclear war on their doorstep, so we have another neighbor who is going to object.  

 

It's not just about how strong NK is, but the aftermath of any military action is going to be devastating for SK and probably have a significant impact on China as well.  

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1 hour ago, Scott said:

I think that as others have noted, any strike against NK is going to have major consequences.   It's not a wise idea to attack a country without the consent of the neighbors.   Unless SK consents, then such an attack is highly unlikely. 

 

Whether China simply wants a buffer or not, is debatable.   China is progressing quickly, but I very much doubt they want a nuclear war on their doorstep, so we have another neighbor who is going to object.  

 

It's not just about how strong NK is, but the aftermath of any military action is going to be devastating for SK and probably have a significant impact on China as well.  

It is with some hesitancy that I disagree with you IMHO.

You suggest that Sth Korea needs to give consent for a military strike. Because US interests in Japan, Korea, Guam and so on are already under threat, this is nothing to do with Sth Korea.

Moreover, Nth Korea has threatened the mainland US and of course Hawaii. I doubt that US needs anyones' consent to defend its own country and military out posts should things escalate

History is against you in your second assertion, no buffer zone.

An egoist (MacArthur) disregarded Chinas' demands that no US forces should move to the Yala River dividing Nth Korea and China. MacArthur challenged China. China insisted on a buffer zone, no threat to its border and the history is that US got booted back to the current border. An armistice, not a truce or a peace accord has existed since 1953. Technically, US and the proxy US controlled subservient states are still at war should the armistice fail. China does not want a nuke war, it will not happen because Russia and China would be instant allies should Nth Korea be attacked  by nukes without both countries consent. And be real, that is not going to happen.

Likewise a conventional war will not occur unless Trump totally losses the last few marbles he has. The only losers in a conventional war will be both Koreas

Russia and China, surrounded by US military outposts demand Nth Korea as a buffer zone. They repeatedly state this IMHO.

 

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SK does not have to give consent, but it's not a wise idea to engage in a war in another part of the world where you run the risk of having little or no support.  

 

SK and China will bear the brunt of this.  

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Just now, Scott said:

SK does not have to give consent, but it's not a wise idea to engage in a war in another part of the world where you run the risk of having little or no support.  

 

SK and China will bear the brunt of this.  

Of course. But support for the US is not limited to SK. Lots of tail skirt hangers on always feel obligated to supporting the US in any about to fail campaign. My own country included. As the Trump (Dumpf) said "you are with us or against us"

China will not bear the brunt of anything unless it agrees. China and Russia are too big for any country to tackle, including US unless you want to say bye bye civilisation.

A nuke war will not happen. Should NK launch a nuke, China and Russia will wipe their hands. A sustained conventional war will obliterate NK and devastate SK. Pray it does not happen

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3 hours ago, spiderorchid said:

Of course. But support for the US is not limited to SK. Lots of tail skirt hangers on always feel obligated to supporting the US in any about to fail campaign. My own country included. As the Trump (Dumpf) said "you are with us or against us"

China will not bear the brunt of anything unless it agrees. China and Russia are too big for any country to tackle, including US unless you want to say bye bye civilisation.

A nuke war will not happen. Should NK launch a nuke, China and Russia will wipe their hands. A sustained conventional war will obliterate NK and devastate SK. Pray it does not happen

"You are either with us , or with the  terrorists " George Bush in a 2001 in a speech before the Congress of the United States.  Often misquoted as "you are with us or against us"  

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Besides Nth Korea having a formidable  military strike and counter strike capacity, basically Russia and China have said hands off Nth Korea. 
They would veto any security council meeting.
Last time the US and a few skirt tail US serf nations attacked the Nth in 1950, China stepped in, kicked ass all the way back to where the invasion started and US screamed for an armistice.
Russia supported the Nth too.
Nothing has changed. Nth Korea is a buffer to China and Russia. Unless, China and Russia approve of de nuking the Nth, nothing can and will happen.
 

Umh, I think you will find that North Korea actually started things off by invading South Korea in 1950....
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