April 16, 2012 12:06
North Korea unveiled what looked like an intercontinental ballistic missile at a massive military parade on Sunday marking the centenary of nation founder Kim Il-sung, though it is unlikely that the device is anything but a mock-up. Bigger and longer than the Musudan mid-range missile with a range of 3,000-4,000 km currently in use, it would, if functioning, be an ICBM with a range of 5,000-6,000 km capable of reaching Alaska, said a military source here.
South Korean and U.S. intelligence had expected North Korea to unveil the missile at the parade, but are not convinced that it works.
The missile is about 18 m long, 6 m longer and 50 cm wider in diameter than the Musudan missile. The Musudan is a single-stage missile, but the new device has two more stages that would boost its maximum range.
It was mounted on a large mobile platform like the transporter erector launcher which is used to carry the Scud, Rodong and Musudan missiles. The platform had 16 wheels like Russian platforms that carry state-of-the-art SS-27 ICBMs.
"North Korea could have imported the mobile platform from China or another foreign country," said one government source here. ICBMs transported on mobile platforms are more difficult to detect than those on fixed launch pads and are tougher to destroy or track since they can be concealed after firing. The two long-range missiles that North Korea has tested so far were fired from fixed launch pads.
North Korea on Friday failed in the launch of what it claimed was a space rocket. Between late last year and February this year, the North conducted four tests of a new booster at its research center in Musudan-ri, North Hamgyong Province. But the South Korean military believe they failed, with one resulting in an explosion.
Besides the phony missile, the regime unveiled 880 different weapons and equipment during Sunday's parade, the most ever.
They included unmanned aerial drones, anti-tank rockets, short-range surface-to-air missiles, mid-range missile, new helmets and other armaments. The unmanned aerial drone is based on a U.S. MQM-107D aerial drone that North Korea illegally imported through the Middle East countries and modified into an attack weapon. It can carry small explosives and be remote-controlled to attack targets.
Conventional RPG-7 shoulder-mounted anti-tank rockets, like the ones used by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, were also featured but fitted with new rockets that can penetrate thicker armor. "We are afraid they may be capable of piercing the armor of our latest K-1 tanks," said one military source here.
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