Russian Experts Impressed by N Korean Missiles, but Say ICBMs Still Decades Away

Tuesday, April 18, 2017
By Paul Martin

Observers worldwide took note of the array of weapons put on display during Saturday’s military parade in Pyongyang, including mockups of new long-range missiles. In a special commentary for Sputnik, analyst Vasily Kashin said that while the country’s ICBM program is still far from the test phase, its leaders certainly aren’t lacking in ambition.

On Saturday, marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, founder of North Korea, Pyongyang showed off an array of missile weaponry, including mock-ups of very large, previously unseen ballistic missiles carried by transport-launch vehicles bearing a striking resemblance to the Russian RT-2PM Topol mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system.

At the moment, along with a range of tactical and short-range missiles such as the Hwasong-6, a derivative of the Scud, North Korea is also known to be engaged in the testing of several medium and intermediate-range systems, including the liquid-fueled Hwasong-10 IRBM. Flight testing of the latter is ongoing, with operational range estimated at 2,500-4,000 km.

More impressive, analysts say, are North Korea’s two solid-fueled medium-range missiles – the sea-based KN-11 Pukkuksong-1, and its ground-based cousin, the KN-15 Pukkuksong-2. These mobile systems’ range is unknown, with intelligence services offering a wide range of estimates between 1,250 and 2,500 km.

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