North Korea Could Cross ICBM Threshold Next Year, US Officials Warn In New Assessment

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North Korea will be able to field a reliable  nuclear capable intercontinental ballistic missile by next year. The US officials have concluded in a confidential assessment that shrinks the timeline for when Pyongyang could strike North American cities with nuclear weapon.
The Pentagon’s new assessment by its Defense Intelligence Agency, which shaves two years off the consensus forecast for the North Korea intercontinental ballistic missile  program was prompted by recent missile tests showing surprising technical advances by the country’s weapons scientists at a pace beyond what many analysts believed was possible for the isolated communist regime.

The  revised predictions by the South Korean intelligence officials who have watched with growing alarm as North Korea is being closely examined by the US projection agency and has appeared to master the key technologies needed to loft a war head toward the targets that is thousands of miles away. The pressure on US and  the Asian leaders to halt North Korea progress before Pyongyang threaten the world with its nuclear tipped missiles. Also, the President Donald Trump vowed to confront North Korea “very strongly” to stop its missile advances, in his visit to Poland this month.

According to officials familiar with the document, The North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will be able to produce a reliable nuclear capable program in 2018.  The program will have some advanced features from its prototype to assembly line. Recently the aggressive testing government put in place and has allowed the North Korea to validate its basic designs by putting it into few months of starting industrial production, the officials said.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the DIA both declined to the address of any classified assessments.

But the ODNI national intelligence manager for East Asia, Scott Bray said in a statement,” The recent test of an intercontinental  ballistic missile range  of North Korea was not a surprise to the intelligence community because it is one of the milestones that we have expected  to refine our timeline and judgments on the threats that Kim Jong Un poses to the United States. This impact of test on our assessments has highlight the threat that North Korea nuclear and ballistic missile programs pose  the United States and to our allies in the region and to the whole world. The intelligence community is closely monitoring the increasing threat from the  Korea.”

One of the technical hurdles in its design is to the challenge of atmospheric ‘reentry’ which is the ability to design a missile that can pass through the upper atmosphere without causing any damage to the warhead. Long regarded as a redoubtable technological barrier for weaken North Korea that milestone could be reached. The US analysts said,” The US officials have detected the signs that North Korea is making final preparations for testing a new reentry vehicle, expectedly on Thursday which is celebrated as North Korean national holiday by marking the end of the Korean War.

“Essentially this week They are on the  track to do So,” said a U.S. official who is familiar with the intelligence report  and like others and insisted on anonymity to discuss the sensitive military assessments. The Korea has not yet demonstrated about the ability to build a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could be carried by one of its missiles. the Officials displayed a sphere shaped device that described as a miniaturized warhead but there has been no confirmation that this milestone has been achieved. Reportedly, the Preparations  have been underway for what would be the sixth underground atomic test of country. In September, The last one had an estimated yield of 20 to 30 kilotons that is more than double the explosive force of any previous test.

The North Korea frightened the world with its successful 4 July test of a missile which is capable of striking with the parts of Alaska and become the first such missile with proven intercontinental range. The launch of a 2-stage Hwasong-14 missile was the latest in a series of tests that have revealed the rapid advances across a number of technical fields, from fuel technology to the launch of the first submarine based missile, current and former intelligence officials and weapons experts said.

The former mission manager for North Korea, Joseph DeTrani for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a former special envoy for negotiations with Pyongyang said,” there has been frightening progress and last year they have gained capabilities that they did not have the ones that we thought they would not have been able to obtain for years.”
According to South Korean lawmakers, who have received a closed door briefings , the 4th July 4 missile test caught the South Korean intelligence service off guard prompting a hasty  forecasts, ” The speed of the ICBM missile is faster than the South Korean Defense Ministry ,” said the lawmaker, Lee Cheol hee of the left wing Minjoo party.

The government of South Korea was trying to engage the regime in Pyongyang and has refused to call the test as a successful test. While the North Korea has not proved because some of the steps needed to build a reliable ICBM, Lee said. The officials across the political spectrum acknowledged that the North Korea is rapidly gaining on the ground. They are  the owner of an ICBM and approaching towards the final stage of being a nuclear power” said Cha Du hyeong, who served as an adviser to conservative former president Lee Myung bak.

The US spy agencies have detected multiple signals that North Korea is preparing to test a reentry vehicle. The analysts believe that the July 4 test was intended to the demonstrate range and the ability of its new two stage ICBM prototype to reach altitude and distance milestones. while the new launch will seek to validate engineering features mainly designed to protect the warhead as it passes through the upper atmosphere and then delivered to a distant place. We have to stop North Korea from  using any nuclear weapons and make clear that any move to use these weapons is dangerous, Wolfsthal said.

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