The Pentagon on Wednesday said the credibility of North Korea’s newest intercontinental ballistic missile is low, as the weapon has not yet been tested.
In a congressionally mandated update on the security situation with North Korea, the Defense Department noted that the KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile, which Pyongyang has begun displaying at military parades, should “be capable of reaching much of the continental United States” — but only if it is successfully designed and developed.
“ICBMs are extremely complex systems that require multiple flight tests to identify and correct design or manufacturing defects, and the Hwasong-13 [KN-08] has not been flight-tested,” the Pentagon noted in an unclassified version of the report. “Without flight tests, its current reliability as a weapon system would be low.”
Not much is known about the new missile’s actual capabilities. Top U.S. military officials have warned repeatedly of the threat it poses to the United States and these statements tend to recirculate widely among the circle of international observers who follow North Korea’s missile and nuclear activities.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last March cited the KN-08 in detailing the Pentagon’s decision to procure 14 additional long-range missile interceptors for placement in Alaska in 2017. Those missile-defense plans are proceeding despite serious technical challenges in interceptor performance, and in the absence of any North Korean flight-test of the KN-08.
Some independent experts have noted that the KN-08s seen in 2012 North Korean military parades had obvious design flaws, though those same analysts acknowledged that versions seen on display last year appeared more realistic and better designed.
North Korea is assessed to be almost done building launch facilities that could be used to test the KN-08 and its older strategic missile cousin, the Taepodong 2, which had its first successful flight trial in December 2012.
“North Korea will seek to continue to develop and test-launch missiles, including the TD-2 ICBM/SLV [Taepodong 2 missiles configured as space launch vehicles],” the Defense Department said in its report.
The total number of launchers for the Taepodong 2 is unknown though North Korea is estimated to have at least six launchers for the KN-08, according to the report. Both missiles are estimated to have ranges exceeding 3,400 miles.
“North Korea will continue using and improving the TD-2, which could reach the United States with a nuclear payload if developed as an ICBM,” the department said.
What We're Following See More »
Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.
Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.
Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”
"Donald Trump's campaign and the Republican party will coordinate more closely going forward, with the GOP's top communicator and chief strategist Sean Spicer increasingly working out of Trump campaign headquarters, the campaign confirmed Sunday."
In a statement released Friday morning, the Trump campaign announced that Paul Manafort has resigned as campaign chairman. The move comes after fresh questions had been raised about Manafort's work in Russia and Ukraine, and Trump brought in Stephen Bannon "as a de facto demotion for Manafort."