North Korea in 2018: Kim’s scary next play for power

Friday, December 15, 2017
By Paul Martin

KIM Jong-un is hellbent on proving his military might. There’s one scary thing he has not done yet, and it’s likely to be his next move.

James Law
DECEMBER 15, 2017

NORTH Korea’s military capabilities have leapt forward this year, sending shockwaves around the world.

But there’s one thing the rogue nation hasn’t done yet in its bid to prove its nuclear might: shoot a intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) over a long-range trajectory horizontally.

North Korea had the world on edge late last month when it test-fired its new Hwasong-15 missile by shooting it a phenomenal 4475km into space.

And while that shows the impressive flying power of the missile, it splashed into Japanese waters 950km from where it was fired. This is only a fraction of the distance an ICBM would need to travel horizontally if North Korea wants to fulfil its aim of targeting the east coast of the US. New York City, for example, is 10,916km from Pyongyang.

Asked for his predictions about how the North Korean missile crisis would play out in 2018, Asia-Pacific expert Evan Medeiros said a horizontal missile test would be Mr Kim’s next move.

“I don’t think Kim Jong-un is done,” the former White House adviser to US president Barack Obama told the Asia Society in New York this week.

“I think the holy grail for him is really having a fully operational, nuclear-capable ICBM that can range the United States.

“I don’t think he has that capability and can convince others that he credibly has that capability until he does a full horizontal test.

“The tests they’ve been doing to date have been what’s called lofted trajectory. You shoot it up really, really high on a vertical trajectory and have it come down.

“And you can test what the full trajectory would be without actually flying a parabola — and I think they’re going to need to demonstrate that.”

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