Due to the growing obsolescence of North Korea’s conventional military capabilities, North Korea has pivoted towards a national security strategy based on asymmetric capabilities and weapons of mass destruction. As such, it has invested heavily in the development of increasingly longer range ballistic missiles, and the miniaturization of its nascent nuclear weapons stockpile. North Korea is reliant on these capabilities to hold U.S., allied forces, and civilian areas at risk. North Korea’s short- and medium-range systems include a host of artillery and short-range rockets, including its legacy Scud missiles, No-Dong systems, and a newer mobile solid-fueled SS-21 variant called the KN-02. North Korea has also made strides towards long-range missile technology, testing for the first time an intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-14, in July 2017. It is believed that North Korea was able to develop some of this technology under the auspices of its Unha (Taepo-Dong 2) space launch program, with which it has used to put crude satellites into orbit. North Korea has displayed two other long-range ballistic missiles, the KN-08 and KN-14, but thus far these missiles have not been flight tested. North Korea’s ballistic missile program was one of the primary motives by the decision to develop and deploy the U.S. Ground-based Midcourse Defense system to protect the U.S. homeland.
Pentagon: North Korea’s missile capability far ahead of schedule
By Ed Adamczyk | July 26, 2017
(UPI) — North Korea may have a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile by next year — about two years ahead of schedule, a new assessment by the Pentagon says.
An analysis by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency accelerates the timeline of Pyongyang’s missile capabilities. It says that intercontinental ballistic missiles — capable of carrying nuclear warheads — could be ready by 2018.
The report’s predictions, similar to those by South Korean intelligence officials, increase pressure on U.S. and Asian leaders to stop Pyongyang’s missile progress.
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump said North Korea would be confronted “very strongly” to stop its missile developments.