North Korea's Kim Jong Un throws down gauntlet with huge new missile: Analysts

Updated: 12 October, 2020 09:47 IST | Agencies | Seoul

Leader Kim Jong Un watched the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) roll through Kim Il Sung square — named after his grandfather — in Pyongyang at the climax of an unprecedented night-time parade on Saturday

North Korean Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missiles during a military parade on Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang. Pic/AFP
North Korean Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missiles during a military parade on Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang. Pic/AFP

The gargantuan new missile North Korea put on show at a military parade is an explicit threat to US defences and an implicit challenge to both the current and next American president, analysts say, warning Pyongyang could test the weapon next year.

Leader Kim Jong Un watched the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) roll through Kim Il Sung square — named after his grandfather — in Pyongyang at the climax of an unprecedented night-time parade on Saturday. South Korea's Defence Ministry on Sunday said it was expressing concerns about the new missile and demanded North Korea abide by 2018 inter-Korean deals aimed at lowering animosities.

Analysts concurred that it was the largest road-mobile, liquid-fuelled missile anywhere in the world, and was highly likely to be designed to carry multiple warheads in independent re-entry vehicles (MIRVs). Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies said it was "clearly aimed at overwhelming the US missile defence system in Alaska".

If the ICBM carried three or four warheads, he added on Twitter, the US would need to spend around $1 billion on 12-16 interceptors to defend against each missile. "At that cost, I am pretty sure North Korea can add warheads faster than we can add interceptors."

The missile was estimated at 24 metres long and 2.5 metres in diameter, which specialist Markus Schiller said was big enough to carry 100 tonnes of fuel, which would take hours to load. It was so big and heavy that it was practically unusable, he added: "You can't move this thing fuelled, and you can't fill it at the launch site. "This thing makes absolutely no sense at all, except for threat equation games, like sending the message of 'we now have a mobile ICBM with MIRVs, be very afraid'."

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First Published: 12 October, 2020 08:09 IST

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