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Experts warn of North's rapid missile development

While the international community focuses on North Korea's missile launch over Japan, a group of US experts has a warning about Pyongyang's missile development. They have given NHK an exclusive.
They say based on analysis of a previous launch, the North could have the ability to strike the US mainland with an ICBM within months.

On July 28th, North Korea fired a Hwasong-14 missile, which it claims to be an ICBM.

It is estimated to have flown for 45 minutes before plunging into the Sea of Japan.

NHK cameras in northern Japan caught a flash of the missile before it landed.

The US experts analyzed the footage to determine if what was caught on camera was a re-entry vehicle, the part of the ICBM that would deliver a nuclear weapon.

They estimate that the object was falling at the speed of 6 kilometers per second at the height of 44 kilometers.

They say it is slower than the normal speed of a "re-entry vehicle" that is coming back to Earth.

James Acton of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says, "If it's the reentry vehicle and it is tumbling --that would give us some questions about the exact status of North Korea's program."

But their analysis wasn't conclusive whether it was the re-entry vehicle or another part of the missile.

Acton also says, "The North Koreans successfully launched the missile. It climbed to a very, very high altitude and it fell almost all the way back to earth as it should've done, and it was only at the very end of the flight that something went wrong."

They say the underlying point is that the test was nearly successful and in terms of missile development, that means a lot.

Acton says, "North Korean scientists are very capable. They have proven themselves over time to be good and effective engineers. If they don't have an ICBM that can hit the U.S. today, they will have it in the very near future."

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