The Future of North Korean Nuclear Delivery Systems
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIV WASHINGTON DC SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
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Pyongyang s inventory of delivery systems is a key factor in considering North Korea s nuclear future. While this inventory is currently based on old Soviet technology only able to reliably reach regional targets, North Korea is seriously pursuing the deployment of more capable, longer-range, more survivable weapons. However, the future course of this effort remains uncertain given technical, engineering and other challenges faced by the North. North Korea s current delivery systems consist of about 1,000 ballistic missiles and a small number of light bombers able to reach most targets in South Korea and Japan. This force is comparatively more advanced than most countries at a similar early stage in the development of their nuclear arsenals since ballistic missiles have played an important role in Pyongyang s conventional military strategy for many years. As a result, the current force is more than able to accommodate any future growth in the North s nuclear weapons arsenal, including a worst-case projection of 100 nuclear weapons by 2020.1 The North s regionally-focused delivery systems include 1 the Nodong medium-range ballistic missile MRBM, a mobile liquid-fueled missile with a range of 1,200-1,500 km and accurate enough to attack cities, ports and military bases 2 a large stockpile of Scud ballistic missiles also mobile and liquid-fueled that could carry a nuclear payload 300-600 km 3 the mobile, solid-fuel KN-02 Toksa short-range ballistic missile SRBM, based on the old Soviet SS-21 SRBM that was able to carry nuclear, chemical and conventional warheads and 4 up to 60 Il-28 light bombers built on a 1950s Soviet design.
- Guided Missiles