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N.K. may develop ICBM capable of hitting U.S. mainland by 2020: report

All Headlines 10:26 December 25, 2016

SEOUL, Dec. 25 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is believed to have secured a technology to miniaturize nuclear warheads and load them onto its Scud and Nodong ballistic missiles, a report issued by a Seoul government think tank said Sunday.

The Institute for National Security Strategy under the National Intelligence Service said in its 2016 annual report that North Korea is expected to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland by 2020 at the latest after drastically increasing the number of its nuclear warheads.

N.K. may develop ICBM capable of hitting U.S. mainland by 2020: report - 1

"The seriousness of the North Korean nuclear program lies in the rapid growth in the number of warheads, as well as its miniaturization and diversification. The North is estimated to have succeeded in developing nuclear warheads on par with boosted fission weapons through its fourth and fifth nuclear tests," the report said.

Notably, the blast in its fifth nuclear test on Sept. 9 this year was measured at 10 to 20 kilotons, compared with 7.9 kilotons in its third test and 6 kilotons in its fourth test, the report showed, citing some progress in the explosive power.

The institute went on to say that the North is believed to have secured a basic technology to have its ballistic missiles re-enter Earth's atmosphere, despite a low success rate.

"Of the North's eight Musudan missile tests this year, all, excluding the sixth, ended in failure. In the sixth test, a Musudan missile went up over 1,000 kilometers before re-entering Earth's atmosphere and flying an additional 400 km," it noted.

Regarding the North's submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) technology, the institute said: "It will take several years for SLBMs to be deployed, but the deployment is now a matter of time, not a matter of technology. Considering the capabilities of North Korean submarines, U.S. military bases not only in South Korea but in Japan will be under threat."

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