American Consequences - August 2017

North Koreans are testing solid propellants for use on medium-range ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles. With a large stockpile of conventional munitions, fuel-air explosive, chemical, and biological weapons, the DPRK arsenal of artillery, rocketry, and missiles is formidable with road- mobile systems and underground storage facilities. Last year on February 7, the North launched a Unha-3 (Taepodong-2) three-stage, liquid- fueled missile, lofting into orbit a KMS-3 observation satellite weighing a reported 200 kilograms (440 pounds). 9 While the DPRK does not possess a reentry vehicle in this small weight range, future development of multiple reentry vehicles is a possibility within the next decade. ICBM capability was demonstrated this year on July 3, when an Hwasong two-stage missile successfully completed a high-altitude flight. Video and photographs from several sources show that the Hwasong ICBM with a 4.92-foot diameter and tapered reentry vehicle is capable of mounting the current stockpile of DPRK nuclear warheads. 10 Chemical and Biological Weapons The threat of North Korea’s missiles is not solely nuclear. Like most communist nations, the North has stockpiled thousands of tons of chemical weapons. This material is stored in a variety of forms – including warheads for rockets and missiles, aircraft bombs, and wing tanks,


Unclassified depiction of a two-stage thermonuclear warhead (Defense Threat Reduction Agency). Unclassified illustration of a staged weapon.

Reentry Body

Radiation case



A specialist holds a mockup sealed pit with tubing. Photo: U.S. Department of Energy.

There is no evidence that the DPRK currently possesses such technology. However, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) certainly does, and there’s no reason to doubt that such technology for small primaries and two-stage radiation implosion devices will be passed along to their allies despite proliferation concerns. Advancements in Rocket and Missile Technology Photographic analysis of DPRK systems by German researcher Norbert Brugge has shown significant progress in the field of solid- rocket booster technology, and the

American Consequences | 41

Made with FlippingBook Online document