As you may have heard, North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturised nuclear warhead to be delivered by its Hwasong-14 (KN-14) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), according to an analysis by the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency.
North Korea may have the required technologies and materials for reentry vehicles (RVs) and it may have demonstrated them in rocket-engine static-test firings, but it has not successfully flown them under real flight conditions.
A second Hwasong-14 missile test on July 28 reached a height of 3,725 kilometres and travelled 998km, before landing in waters off Japan. However, video of the ICBM reentering the atmosphere shows the RV did not survive the test.
“You see small bright, radiant objects that are shedding off the reentry vehicle and then it suddenly begins to turn very dim,” Michael Elleman, a 38 North think-tank analyst and consulting senior fellow for missile defence at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told reporters. “That should not occur. Most likely it broke up into pieces.”
38 North suggests the RV appears to be similar to the US Mark 2 RV used by early Jupiter, Thor and Atlas missiles in the 1950s and 1960s.
Click on the graphic for an expanded view.