North Korea threatens by unveiling giant new missile, experts say

The giant new intercontinental ballistic missile unveiled by North Korea in a military parade on Saturday is an explicit threat to the US missile defense system, but also an implicit challenge for the President of the United States, experts say.

• Read also: Pyongyang unveils giant intercontinental ballistic missile in parade

From his podium, leader Kim Jong Un paid the greatest attention to the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Placed on a tractor-erector-launcher that paraded in Kim Il Sung Square – named after the regime’s founder – in Pyongygang, it was the climax of this unprecedented night parade.

Experts unanimously pointed out that it is the world’s largest mobile liquid-combustion missile, most likely designed to carry a multi-warhead missile (MIRV).

For Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute, this is “clearly aimed at testing the American missile defense system in Alaska”.

If the ICBM has three or four warheads, he explained, the United States will have to spend about $ 1 billion (740 million euros) to have 12 to 16 interceptor missiles for each missile.

“At this price, I’m pretty sure North Korea can add warheads faster than we can add interceptors,” he said.

The length of this missile is estimated at 24 meters and its diameter at 2.5 meters, which, according to specialist Markus Schiller, can carry 100 tons of fuel.

However, it is so large and heavy that it is virtually unusable, he said.

“This makes absolutely no sense, except in a threat equation context of sending the following message: ‘We now have a mobile ICBM with MIRVs, be very scared.’

Experts from North Korea regularly point out that the devices displayed by Pyongyang during the parades may be models and that there is no evidence that they will work until they have been tested.

On Saturday, the missile was on a tractor-erector-launcher, which had 11 axles, never seen before. This model is much larger than the eight-axle vehicles made in China and so far used in the North.

“This device is perhaps more terrifying than the missile,” said Melissa Hanham, a researcher with the Open Nuclear Network.

“If North Korea is able to produce its own chassis, then there is less constraint on the number of ICBMs it can launch.”

” Red line “

Shortly before being inaugurated president of the United States in 2017, Donald Trump tweeted that North Korea “would not succeed” in developing a weapon that could reach American territory.

The first year of his tenure, which saw the North launch an ICBM that could achieve this goal, was marked by a series of exchanges of insults between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim ahead of a historic diplomatic rapprochement.

North Korea’s denuclearization negotiations have stalled since the failure of the Hanoi summit in 2019.

This ICBM is proof that the North has continued to develop its military arsenal throughout the diplomatic process, experts say, giving Pyongyang more leverage to demand a return to the negotiating table.

“Like it or not, North Korea is a nuclear power and is probably the third nuclear power capable of striking American cities, third after Russia and China,” Korea’s Andrei Lankov told AFP Risk Group.

Mr. Kim wanted to send a message to the United States to show them that he has improved his weaponry and that if they “do not want to make an agreement now, they will have to do it later, which would be worse for them. , the international community, ”he added.

More than 12 hours after the parade ended, North Korean television reported that neither Mr. Trump nor his Democratic rival Joe Biden had tweeted.

According to Shin Beom-chul of the Korea National Security Research Institute, by showing off the missile rather than launching it, Pyongyang avoided crossing the red line.

“But it also shows that North Korea could proceed with a launch if Trump is re-elected and ignores the North Korean issue,” he told AFP.

However, “if Biden is elected and he doesn’t listen to North Korea, he’ll do a launch.”

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