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North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missiles could hit central US in just 33 minutes, says Chinese study

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Five large missiles simultaneously fired from the back of launchers in North Korea on March 10, 2023, in a state-distributed image that Insider could not verify. Plumes of smoke rise up against red ground, in front of a misty mountain backdrop.A fire assault drill at an undisclosed location in North Korea on March 10, 2023, in this photo released by North Korea’s state-controlled Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

KCNA via Reuters

  • North Korea’s ICBMs can conceivably penetrate the US missile defense system, a Chinese study found.
  • The study simulated the launch of a Hwasongpho-15 missile towards Columbia, Missouri.
  • On Thursday, North Korea test-fired its most advanced nuclear-capable missile. 

North Korean ICBMs could hit the central US in just 33 minutes, according to a new Chinese study, which pointed to potential gaps in the US’ satellite-aided system for tracking missiles.

A simulation run by the Beijing Institute of Electronic System Engineering found that one of its missiles could hit the US mainland within 1,997 seconds, if not intercepted by US missile defense, according to the South China Morning Post

The study simulated the firing of a Hwasongpho-15 missile from the central North Korean city of Sunchon, towards Columbia, Missouri, per the SCMP. The Hwasongpho-15 is a two-stage, likely nuclear-capable missile with an operational range of up to 8,000 miles. This is “sufficient to hit the entire US homeland,” the SCMP reported the study’s leader, Tang Yuyan, as saying. 

The study also said the US missile defense system would be alerted about 20 seconds after firing, and that the first interceptor missiles would be launched around 11 minutes later, per the SCMP.

It added that while the US’ missile defense network is robust, there are still gaps in its satellite-aided system for tracking missiles, leaving open the possibility that one could slip through, per the outlet.

The report, released mid-February, came ahead of a series of North Korean test-firings this week.

On Monday, two strategic cruise missiles were fired from a submarine off North Korea’s eastern coast, according to Al-Jazeera.

An ICBM test also occured at around 7 a.m. local time on Thursday, the BBC reported, citing Japanese and South Korean officials. The missile traveled around 620 miles and fell into waters west of Japan, per the BBC.

State-controlled North Korean outlet Rodong Sinmun said that it was a Hwasongpho-17, a larger and more advanced missile than the Hwasongpho-15 used in the Beijing scientists’ simulation.

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