A tiny detail from North Korea’s military parade may show how close they are to long-range nukes – Business Insider

North Korea military paradeDamir

A close review of photos from North Korea’s recent military parade shows that the
Kim regime may be closer to building a functional nuclear missile
that can threaten the US mainland than previously thought.

While some experts doubt that all the missile launcher tubes
driving around Pyongyang really held missiles or posed a much of
a threat, Michael Duitsman, a research associate at the
for Nonproliferation Studies
, warned of a small but
troubling detail on one of the missiles.

In the picture below, on the right side of the missile, where the
cylindrical section meets the nose, the fuselage appears to have
been wrapped.

north korea slbm missile parade

this April 15, 2017 file photo, a submarine missile is paraded
across the Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade, in
Pyongyang, North Korea to celebrate the 105th birth anniversary
of Kim Il Sung, the country’s late founder.

AP Photo/Wong Maye-E

Here’s a closer look:

north korea filament wrapping missileAP Photo/Wong Maye-E/Business

Duitsman told Business Insider in a phone interview that
this may be 

wound filament-reinforced plastic,
a very light alternative to metal that can withstand the
incredible pressure of rocket motors. Tal
, head of the space research center at the Fisher
Institute for Air & Space strategic studies, first pointed
this out. 

“Part of the parade is them showing us what they’re working
on,” said Duitsman. “Not stuff that’s operational, but stuff
they’re actively working on. They’re showing us their

Duitsman said that wound filament reinforced plastic has up
to ten times the strength to density ratio of aluminum, and could
greatly reduce the weight of a missile.

“The lighter the stage is,” said Duitsman, referring to the
booster portion of the missile as a stage, “the less propellant
you need, and the more you can put on top of it.” In this case,
the lighter missile could be used to carry a nuclear warhead.

Pukguksong-2 north korea missile
Korea launches a very similar missile in one of their more
successful tests on February 13, 2017.

KCNA/Handout via Reuters

While it seems like a small detail, Duitsman said that the
Soviets and the US made similar breakthroughs when creating
their ICBMs. Ultimately, if the North Koreans have advanced to
composite materials and plastics in this part of their missile
design, it means they’re further along in their program than many
experts suspected.

Though the North Koreans would still face problems in how
to launch the missile and how to steer it, Duitsman said they
could begin testing an ICBM that could reach Washington in as
little as two or three years. 

A tiny detail from North Korea’s military parade may show how close they are to long-range nukes – Business Insider