- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- Mississippi abortion law can’t be enforced
- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Government OKs Arab-owned company to operate U.S. cargo port
- Defense lawyer: McDonnell’s wife had ‘crush’ on CEO
- Chinese hackers stole ‘huge quantities’ of sensitive data on Israel’s Iron Dome
- House unveils bill to speed deportations of illegal immigrant children
- Californians protest middle school for hiring white man to teach cultural studies
- Killer’s sentencing overturned because mother couldn’t find seat in courtroom
North Korea will test-fire missile soon in face-saving move, expert says
Question of the Day
North Korea has moved a missile to an east coast launch-site and is likely to test fire it -- allowing the regime in Pyongyang to save face if it is stepping down from its confrontation with the United States.
“As a rule, when the North Koreans allow a missile to be detected, other than in a parade, they launch it,” said retired military analyst and veteran Korea-watcher John McCreary.
South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said Thursday North Korea had moved the intermediate-range missile to a launch site on its east coast, likely for some kind of test or show firing.
Adding to the likelihood of a missile launch: The birthday of the North’s founder Kim Il-Sung, grandfather of the current ruler Kim Jong-Un, is less than two weeks away and is a national holiday often marked by some kind of military demonstration, analysts say.
“Readers should expect a launch,” said Mr. McCreary. Apart from any celebration or demonstration, he said, the move would allow North Korea “to test U.S. missile defense capabilities, reaction times and crisis management discipline.”
But the capabilities of the missile, thought to be a Musudan, the Korean version of the Soviet-built SSN-6, are open to question.
The Musudan is thought to have a range of up to 2,500 miles which would mean it is just able to reach the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam, but the Koreans have never tested the missile, and some analysts have doubts about its accuracy and other capabilities.
But Mr. McCreary doesn’t share them.*
The SSN-6 “has been test fired more than any ballistic missile in history,” he said, “The Soviets made lots [of them] and were continuously performing reliability tests. It has one of the best liquid fueled, high energy engines ever designed by anyone.”
McCreary says that the missile’s single purpose “from design to production was to be a nuclear weapons carrier.”
However, some analysts doubt whether North Korea has surmounted the considerable engineering challenges involved in miniaturizing a nuclear weapon so that it can be fitted in a missile warhead.
"It's extremely unlikely they have a nuclear missile which could reach the United States," said Gary Samore, until recently the top nuclear nonproliferation expert on President Barack Obama's national security staff.
Mr. Samore told Reuters he believed Pyongyang’s threats against the United States are "probably all bluster.”
He added that it would be “suicidal” for North Korea to attack the United States -- and that Pyongyang knows it.
Mr. McCreary suggested that a missile test, falling into international waters, might be a way for the North Koreans to back away from confrontation without losing face.
“A missile that splashed into the ocean without starting a general war is a way for the North Koreans to back down,” he said.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...
- Senator's memo shows Iran links in Homeland Security's troubled immigration program
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- Dems back bill to fix problems in investor visa program
- Democrats proceed with Mayorkas vote despite pending investigation
- NSA monitored 'World of Warcraft' players
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- PHILLIPS: Once-in-a-century stupidity
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Obama: 'Not a new Cold War,' but new Russia sanctions announced
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- Obama's brother wears Hamas scarf bearing anti-Israel slogans in photo
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world