June 12, 2017 09:25
North Korea on Saturday boasted that it is "not for away" from testing an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The official Rodong Sinmun daily said "recent strategic weapon tests have proved" that "anywhere in the U.S." is within the North's missile range.
Leader Kim Jong-un said in his New Year's address that the regime is "in the final stage" of preparations for launching an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Robert Soofer, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy, agrees, saying in a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on June 7, "I would just repeat what the intelligence community says. North Korea is poised to conduct its first ICBM test in 2017."
The North was successful in all of its new missile tests in recent weeks. South Korean military authorities also estimate that the North's testing of an ICBM is now a matter of time.
Experts speculate that the North could build a full-size ICBM capable of striking the eastern U.S. if it combines more than two high-thrust liquid fuel engines, which were used for the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile.
The North has made progress in developing re-entry technology to make the warhead withstand temperatures between 6,000 and 7,000 degrees soon.
A military source here said, "It stands to reason that the North will succeed in developing an ICBM in two or three more years, but it's possible that the regime can test an ICBM this year given the speed of the North's missile development that keeps defying our predictions."
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