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“Having Access to the Missile Front Was a Critical Insight We Had Not Had Before”

Posted on the 15 April 2013 by Brutallyhonest @Ricksteroni

The Daily Beast is reporting that the U.S. recovered the front section of the rocket used in North Korea’s satellite launch in December:

After the North Korean launch, U.S. Navy ships managed to recover the front section of the rocket used NorthKoreanMissileRecoveredin it, according to three U.S. officials who work closely on North Korean proliferation. That part of the rocket in turn provided useful clues about North Korean warhead design, should the next payload be a warhead rather than a satellite.

The same basic engineering and science needed to launch a satellite into space is also used in the multistage rockets known as intercontinental ballistic missiles. The front of the satellite rocket, according to three U.S. officials who work closely on North Korean proliferation, gave tangible proof that North Korea was building the missile’s cone at dimensions for a nuclear warhead, durable enough to be placed on a long-range missile that could reenter the earth’s atmosphere from space.

“Having access to the missile front was a critical insight we had not had before,” one U.S. nonproliferation official tells The Daily Beast. “I have seen a lot of drawings, but we had not seen the piece of that missile at that time.” This official continues: “We looked at the wreckage from the launc,h and we put it together with other kinds of intelligence and came to this judgment that they had figured out the warhead piece.”

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) released a classified assessment last month saying that it now has “moderate confidence” that the “North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles however the reliability will be low,” South Korea has provided additional intelligence bolstering this conclusion, according to U.S. officials.

That assessment, in line with, but more assertive than earlier comments from the agency, was made public three days ago in a question from Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado, to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey. Pentagon spokesman George Little and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, soon after the disclosure issued statements trying to play down the news. Clapper said, “It would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully developed and tested the kinds of nuclear weapons referenced in the passage.” He added, “North Korea has not yet demonstrated the full range of capabilities necessary for a nuclear armed missile.”

But neither Little nor Clapper disputed the basic judgment that North Korea could likely build a nuclear warhead of low reliability.

Thankfully, we have people in charge who know what they're doing and we can all get back to watching American Idol and Dancing With The Stars.


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