Stefan Krasowski via Wikimedia Commons

As I recently noted, the North Korean regime of Kim Jong Un just showed the world its newest and largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at its nighttime parade on Saturday. The liquid-fueled missile, now designated the Hwasong-16, was seen mounted on a massive, 11-axle mobile transporter erector launcher (TEL).

At approximately 85 feet long, the new rocket appears to be about 6 to 9 feet longer than the Hwasong-15, reports the New York Post. “It’s also wider, making it the largest road-mobile ICBM of its type in the world.”

“It’s huge,” said Melissa Hanham, a weapons expert and deputy director of the Open Nuclear Network who called the missile “a monster,” according to the Post

Weapons experts believe the likely engine configuration of the “monster” long-range ICBM would allow Pyongyang to deliver several thousand pounds of payload anywhere in the United States for the first time. More importantly the missile should be able to carry multiple warheads.

As Ankit Panda, author of “Kim Jong Un and the Bomb: Survival and Deterrence in North Korea,” notes, Kim seems to have learned from the former Soviet Union that it’s more effective to add warheads to a single missile than build more missiles, reports the Post.

Panda, who is also a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, estimates that the Hwasong-16 could hold as many as four warheads. Meanwhile, reports Bloomberg, the Hwasong-15, launched in 2017, is believed to carry a single warhead.

With a limited, and unproven, arsenal, North Korea would be challenged with America’s small, but effective, anti-missile defenses.

Panda also said, at a web seminar hosted by South Korea-based NK News, that he estimates that Kim would need to launch 11 single-warhead ICBMs against the U.S. to have a minimum 1-in-3 chance of evading American missile defenses and detonating a nuclear warhead on American soil.

With more warheads per missile, “They can saturate the defenses by having more re-entry vehicles than the US can ever hope to defend against,” Panda stated, according to the Post.

While the new engines on the Hwasong-16 remain untested in a live missile launch, which would violate international sanctions, this new missile appears to be giving the Hermit Kingdom that dangerous capability.

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Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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wilbur stalker
wilbur stalker
11 months ago

listen folks 2 or 3 well placed Nukes on this commie N Korea will be uninhabitable for 30 years or more

Pissed Off American
Pissed Off American
11 months ago

If America were to get hit by even one nuke. You could bet that the return fire would be 1,000 times bigger, trigger WWIII and everybody will have to engage. It amazes me that these countries or any and all countries of the world think they can win a nuclear war. That would set mankind back thousands of years and for what? BS bragging rights. If it didn’t wipe life off the planet for million years .Maybe the next life would be smarter. The elites and leaders can hide in their bunkers, but the rest of us will be gone and they will have to sit around playing with them self and bossing each other around until they die off from lack of food, old age or nuclear fall out. No Winners in this stupid game. It’s all a bluff until a mistake happens and then it real if you like or not. What a waste of money and BS for NOTHING.