Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Friday he does not believe that North Korea's current intercontinental ballistic missiles are capable of hitting the continental US.
Photo Credit: cnn.com
North Korea's November ICBM "has not yet shown to be a capable threat against us right now," Mattis said during an off-camera briefing with reporters at the Pentagon on Friday. He added that the United States is still assessing the situation. "We are still examining the forensics, we're still doing the forensic analysis, it takes a while," he said.
Pyongyang tested a new missile on November 28 that flew higher and farther than any previous launch and bragged afterwards that its new Hwasong-15 could deliver nuclear warheads anywhere in the US.
At the time, Mattis noted that the launch showed that North Korea was working on a research and development program that could produce a missile capable of hitting "everywhere in the world" and reflected "a continued effort to build a threat -- a ballistic missile threat that endangers world peace, regional peace and certainly, the United States."
His assessment Friday was in line with technical analysts who say that North Korea's November launch didn't actually demonstrate an ability to hit the US or that it is making advances on the technical challenges required for a successful, operational ICBM.
"I'm highly suspicious about the capability of the Hwasong-15," retired Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and expert in aerospace and missile defence, said in an email.
The red flag for O'Reilly and other missile experts is that the North Koreans keep shooting the missile almost straight up, and not in the parabolic arc of a standard missile trajectory, which is harder to achieve.0 0