EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Uncertainty remains about North Korea’s technological maturity and ability to launch nuclear warheads that could hit the US homeland, even after its recent success at launching the Hwasong-14 missile and the conducting of its most powerful nuclear test yet. The first-stage engine of the Hwasong-14 is a critical component in its possible operation as an intercontinental ballistic missile, but there are questions about how Pyongyang came by this engine, how many it possesses, and whether or not it can produce them on its own. These uncertainties are troubling not only with regard to North Korea, but also with regard to Iran. They have sobering implications about the possibility of monitoring and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction worldwide.
Kim Jong-un with alleged miniaturized thermonuclear device, screen capture from YouTube video by Right Wing
Lt. Col. (ret.) Dr. Raphael Ofek is an expert in the field of nuclear physics and technology, who served as a senior analyst in the Israeli intelligence community.
BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family