The “new strategic weapon” mentioned by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could be an advanced intercontinental ballistic missile, the Voice of America reported, citing multiple North Korea experts.
Kim Jong-un speaks of a "new strategic weapon" during the fifth Plenary Meeting of the seventh Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea. (Yonhap)
“I think we could see something like Solid fuel ICBM launch from North Korea. That doesn’t actually mean that they developed it by themselves,” Markus Schiller, whose expertise lies in mechanical and aerospace engineering, told the VOA on Wednesday.
Considering that North Korea is likely to launch a missile that the international community has yet to witness, Schiller said Pyongyang “would also go their path and be on a level with Russia and China and with the US” in order to “send exactly the sign that they want.”
The expert noted that the new weapon could be heavily reliant on foreign technologies such as Russia’s.
David Maxwell, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in the US, hypothesized another scenario.
“I think it (new strategic weapon) would be an ICBM with a nuclear weapon on it, that they test and detonate in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean,” Maxwell, a former planning officer who served on the ROK-US Combined Forced Command, told the VOA.
Maxwell opined that if Pyongyang pulls off that test and demonstrates progress in its nuclear capability, the new weapon “would be a game changer,” as “every subsequent missile launch could be an ICBM with a nuclear weapon pointed at the US.”
On a more cautious note, Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the Rand Corp., doubted whether North Korea is capable of even firing an actual ICBM off the US coast. The communist regime has not really demonstrated an actual ICBM kind of launch, he said.
Bennett contended the new strategic weapon could just be rhetoric aimed at dividing South Korea and the US.
“By threatening he's not going to lose any ground on decoupling the alliance. By doing an actual launch he could,” he said.
Kim did not deliver the “Christmas gift” that he had warned of earlier, possibly because Seoul and Washington have “got their own problems,” Bennett added.
By Choi Si-young (firstname.lastname@example.org