South Korean intelligence service believes that the North Korean missile fired on July 4 can fly long range, but is not capable of re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, a critical technology for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
“The recent missile is an upgrade from the mid-range KM-7 missile successfully test-fired on May 14 and shows intercontinental range,” lawmakers Kim Byeong-ki and Lee Wan-young said on Tuesday, citing an intelligence briefing by Seo Hoon, director of National Intelligence Service on Tuesday.
According to the lawmakers, the NIS briefed that considering that the missile had been launched from a fixed launcher, the long-range missile technology seems to be in the early development stage. Despite North Korea’s claims, the NIS said that the success of the re-entry system has not been verified and given the country’s lack of testing facilities, it does not seem capable of the technology.
Although North Korea argues it has successfully demonstrated its ability to carry out a highly accurate strike under stringent re-entry conditions, the precision guidance system is not possible without the re-entry system, the lawmakers said quoting the NIS.
The country’s intelligence service also believed that the first-stage missile was equipped with the KN-17 engine and the second-stage missile with a small engine used during the test launch at the Dongchang-ri site in June.
Following the July 4 test firing, North Korea claimed that it successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach Alaska. In a show of strong condemnation of the North’s missile launch, the United States and Korea promptly responded with a joint live fire drill. The international community has also urged the hermit kingdom to stop its reckless action that has escalated tensions on the Korean peninsula.
By Kim Hyo-sung and Ahn Jeong-hoon
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