Seoul, South Korea Eureka News Now —
North Korea is ready to test an ICBM on a normal trajectory, leader Kim Jong Un’s sister told state media on Tuesday, a flight pattern that could prove the weapons can threaten the continental United States.
In a statement from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim Yo Jong – the top official of her brother’s regime – also dismissed experts’ skepticism about the advancement of ICBM technology in North Korea, particularly the reentry capability of its weapons.
ICBMs are launched into space, where they hurtle out of the atmosphere before their payloads – nuclear warheads – undergo a fiery re-entry process, much like a space shuttle or space capsule before crashing into their targets.
If the process isn’t done with pinpoint accuracy and with materials that can withstand the intense heat, the warhead would burn up before it reached its target. The angle at which the warhead re-enters the atmosphere can complicate the process.
To date, North Korea has launched ballistic missiles that travel hundreds of kilometers into space and then enter the atmosphere at steep angles, most falling into waters between North Korea and Japan.
To successfully attack the US mainland, a North Korean missile would have to take a much flatter trajectory and re-entry angle.
“For several years, so-called experts have said that the re-entry of our ICBMs into the atmosphere has not been detected or verified,” Kim Yo Jong said.
“It seems obvious that they will try to derogate our strategic weapons capabilities with such logic that it cannot be proved by shooting it down at an elevated angle alone, and that it can only be detected by firing at a normal angle… I’ll admit simple answer to that. We can try it soon and when you see it you will know.”
In November, North Korea claimed to have launched a “new type” ICBM, the Hwasong-17 — a missile that could theoretically reach the US mainland.
That was one of a record 35 times this year that North Korea has tested missiles.
Western officials and experts also expect Pyongyang to test a nuclear warhead at any time. When this test comes, it will be the first since 2017.
On Sunday, North Korea fired two ballistic missiles, which the South Korean military analyzed as medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs).
The following day, KCNA said the country’s space agency had completed a “final gateway process for a reconnaissance satellite launch.”
Photos published in state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Monday appeared to show black-and-white high-altitude aerial photos of South Korea’s capital Seoul and the nearby city of Incheon — the site of South Korea’s main airport — but many experts put the images into perspective Question ‘ authenticity, especially given their poor resolution
In Tuesday’s statement, Kim Yo Jong defended North Korea’s recent report of a test for its satellite development and dismissed experts’ skepticism about the alleged aerial photos.
“The skepticism of South Korea’s so-called experts about the two photos taken by a color test camera and their assessment of the state of satellite development and preparation in my country is so inappropriate and flippant,” she said.
She defended that the tests were properly conducted and the results were known to the public.
“The test confirmed important technical indicators such as camera operation technology, data processing and transmission capabilities of communication equipment, and tracking and control accuracy of the ground control system under space conditions,” she said, according to KCNA.
“Our people will stick to the reconnaissance satellite development project decided by our party, no matter what the cost.”
Meanwhile, top-tier US F-22 stealth fighters are in South Korea this week for joint exercises with South Korean forces, the South Korean Defense Ministry said.
On Tuesday, the two allies combined their air forces for drills at the Korea Air Defense Identification Zone near the southwestern part of Jeju Island, the ministry said, citing the deployment of a US B-52 bomber near the Korean one Peninsula.
From the South Korean side, F-35 and F-15K fighter jets took part, according to a statement from the ministry.
It said US F-22s currently stationed in Japan would remain in South Korea this week conducting training focused on strengthening response capabilities against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.