North Korea makes progress on KN-08 ICBM, says US

01 May 2013

North Korea has taken "some initial steps" towards fielding the KN-08 road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Lieutenant General Michael T Flynn, Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), told the Senate Armed Services Committee on 18 April, while presenting the agency's annual threat assessment. "It also seeks ballistic missiles with nuclear capability and continues to develop the Taepo-Dong-2," he stated, noting that the latter has been used to put a satellite into orbit.

He also confirmed that North Korea had conducted Global Positioning System (GPS) jamming in an April-May 2012 test that reportedly interfered with maritime and aviation navigation.

The current force of more than 1,200 conventional short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) that China has deployed opposite Taiwan is being augmented with a limited, but growing, number of conventionally armed, medium-range ballistic missiles including the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile, he told the committee.

China's investment in naval weapons primarily focuses on anti-air and anti-surface capabilities to achieve periodic and local sea and air superiority within what it calls 'the first island chain'. This stretches from the Kamchatka peninsula to the Malay peninsula, and includes the Kuril Islands, the Japanese archipelago, the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, the northern Philippines, and Borneo.

Although Syria may have chemical warheads available for a portion of its force of several hundred Scud-B, -C, and -D, and OTR-21 Tochka SS-21 ('Scarab') SRBMs, the DIA does not believe that Syria has achieved a capability to use biological agents as effective mass-casualty weapons. However, the agency is worried that "terrorists, including Al-Qaeda In Iraq's Syria-based group al-Nusrah Front, will seek to obtain Syrian weapons of mass destruction [WMDs] should security fail in the wake of the [current] unrest".

Syria's liquid-propellant missile programme depends on what the DIA report described as "essential foreign equipment and assistance, primarily from North Korean entities", while similar external help, mainly from Iran, is advancing its solid-propellant rocket and missile development and production capability.

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