A set of intercontinental ballistic missiles North Korea showcased during a military parade last month were mock-ups, U.S. experts have concluded.
Analyzing "high-resolution images of the Musudan medium-range missile and the ICBM, known as the Hwasong-13, taken at the July 27 military parade" to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War, U.S. government experts and independent analysts concluded that the missiles are "almost certainly nothing more than fakes," NBC reported Thursday.
Markus Schiller, a former RAND Corporation military analyst, said, "There was no evidence on the rear of the Hwasong-13 of retro rockets necessary to separate the stages -- critical if an ICBM is to reach sub-orbital space and strike distant targets."
He added, "Varied features on the rockets -- such as differing placement of small guidance nozzles and hatches -- are telling… My opinion is that it's a big hoax."
Schiller added they were not even training simulators but "crude fakes." "The North also seems to be trying to inflate the number of Hwasong-13s it claims to possess. I can tell that on the mock-ups, they simply changed the markings and serial numbers from last year's parade to make it look like they have more missiles."
The expert also dismissed as fakes six missiles the North displayed during a military parade in April last year.
James Oberg, an NBC News space and missile expert, pointed to "'undulating skin' near the warhead on one" rocket that "would make the missiles less airworthy." He added, "Upper-stage missile skin has got to be really smooth, or else it sets off high-speed turbulent air flow."
"Our assessment is that what we are looking at is most likely simulators used for training purposes," another U.S. government expert told NBC.