11 July 2017
Despite its long range, the North Korean missile fired on July 4 is not capable of a key process that would allow a nuclear weapon atop the projectile to hit its target, South Korea’s intelligence service told lawmakers Tuesday.
After the test launch last week, North Korean state media said the ballistic missile was equipped with a stable re-entry system, which allows a warhead to survive the heat-intensive process of re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
Ballistic missiles follow an arched trajectory, whereas cruise missile mostly travel parallel to the ground.
“Considering the fact that the missile had been launched from a fixed launcher, the NIS (National Intelligence Service) evaluates the technology is at the beginning stage,” South Korean lawmaker Lee Wan-young said Tuesday.
“The NIS sees North Korea as not yet capable of re-entry technology,” Lee said in a televised news conference after an intelligence briefing.
North Korea said last week it test-launched its first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, ICBM, capable of reaching Alaska.
The news set off alarm bells as the United States celebrated its Independence Day holiday and as world leaders prepared to gather for the Group of 20 summit in Germany.
Authorities in the U.S. and South Korea verified the missile had intercontinental range, but provided few other details.