March 27, 2020 13:35
A new North Korean version of the Army Tactical Missile System test-fired last week could carry nuclear warheads, the U.S. website 38 North at Johns Hopkins University warned Wednesday.
The missile, dubbed KN-24, looks like the U.S.' ATACMS but has a bigger diameter and apparently longer range.
The projectile launched on March 21 is capable of flying at least 410 km and carrying a 500 kg or heavier nuclear warhead, while the U.S.' ATACMS can fly 300 km with a 160 to 560 kg nuclear warhead.
The KN-24 has a 700-850 mm diameter, compared to the ATACMS' 610 mm. The diameter of a spherical nuclear explosive device the North displayed in February 2017 was roughly 600 mm.
"The KN-24's main body must be at least 700 mm, perhaps as large as 750 mm" to fit the nuclear payload into the compartment, the website said. "This would be consistent with estimated dimensions based on the KN-24's maximum range during testing," 38 North added.
"It is far from clear if North Korea intends to arm the missile with nuclear weapons," it added. "However, it seems apparent that we cannot dismiss the possibility that, at a future date, Pyongyang will look to make the KN-24 dual capable."
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