Big Flaw Spotted in N. Korea Missile Test

Mock warhead apparently failed to survive re-entry
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2017 3:32 AM CDT
Updated Aug 1, 2017 6:33 AM CDT
Big Flaw Spotted in N. Korea Missile Test
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, gestures at the site of a missile test at an undisclosed location in North Korea.   (KRT via AP Video)

North Korea's latest missile launch was seen as a worrying success that means much of the US mainland is now in reach of Pyongyang's missiles—but analysts have seen signs that not everything went according to plan. Video shows that the mock warhead on the intercontinental ballistic missile apparently breaks up during re-entry, suggesting that North Korea has so far been unable to create a warhead capable of surviving the extreme heat of re-entry, the New York Times reports. Missile expert Michael Elleman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London says it could take around six months for North Korea to fix the problem, buying the US more time to plan missile defense systems.

The need to fix the warhead problem also means the North is likely to have to carry out more ICBM tests, giving the US more opportunities to respond. "We will handle North Korea. We are gonna be able to handle them," President Trump told reporters Monday. "It will be handled. We handle everything." In addition to the ICBM test, the US says it has detected "highly unusual and unprecedented levels" of North Korean submarine activity, along with signs of a missile "ejection test," a defense official tells CNN. (US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley says the "time for talk is over" on North Korea.)

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