March 12, 2002 19:40
The US Central Intelligence Agency said Monday that North Korea's missile technology development over the last three years will enable Pyongyang to launch an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) that can reach the US.
National Intelligence Officer for Strategic and Nuclear Programs Robert Walpole delivered the "CIA National Intelligence Estimate of Foreign Missile Development and the Ballistic Missile Threat through 2015" to the Senate's International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services Subcommittee of Governmental Affairs, which suggested the possibility of an ICBM attack by North Korea, Iran or Iraq.
Walpole pointed out that although Kim Jong Il extended the voluntary flight-test moratorium-in effect until 2003 in May 2001, the North continues to develop missiles, emphasizing technological leaps in the last three years.
"The multiple-stage Taepo Dong-2, which is capable of reaching the United States with a nuclear weapon-sized payload, may be ready for flight-testing," continued Walpole, "the Taepo Dong-2 in a two-stage configuration could deliver a several-hundred-kilogram payload up to 10,000 km-sufficient to strike Alaska, Hawaii, and parts of the continental United States," and "if the North uses a third stage similar to the one used on the Taepo Dong-1 in 1998, the Taepo Dong-2 could deliver a several-hundred-kg payload up to 15,000 km; sufficient to strike all of North America."
Walpole said that intelligence agencies in the mid-90s predicted that Pyongyang was capable of producing one or two nuclear weapons, adding that while plutonium production activities at Yongbyon had been suspended in accordance with the Agreed Framework of 1994, Pyongyang still has chemical and biological weapons programs.
(From Washington DC, Gang In-seon, firstname.lastname@example.org)
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