North Korea isn't in the same league — or sport — as the United States when it comes to military weaponry.
They've had more failed missile tests than successful ones, with many of their weapons blowing up mid-launch. In April, North Korea launched a new missile that “almost blew up immediately,” according to USA Today.
Still, the country that isolates itself from the rest of the world is a significant national security threat to South Korea and Japan.
And while most of their ballistic missile tests have been the stuff of internet memes and jokes, their latest test is no laughing matter.
Last weekend, North Korea launched the KN-17, a medium range liquid-fueled missile. The KN-17 is believed to have anti-ship capabilities, but it is not an intercontinental ballistic missile. However, even though it isn't an ICBM, North Korea claims it can carry a nuclear warhead.
According to NBC News:
Two U.S. defense officials confirm that North Korea's launch of a KN-17 missile last Sunday was successful and that the missile's re-entry vehicle did successfully re-enter the atmosphere.
The re-entry was controlled and the vehicle did not burn up, the officials said. It landed in the sea near Russia.
The U.S. officials characterized Sunday's launch as an advancement for the North Korean missile program.
Independent Journal Review spoke to a source in the Department of Defense about what the test means. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“There is a lot we don't know about just how accurate and reliable the system is. This I will say: They are getting better across the board,” the source said. “They are on their way to becoming more than a nuisance.”
The source spoke of how North Korea's technology is expected to improve:
“Keep in mind the state of rocket/missile technology of the U.S. in the 1960s. Launch failures were fairly common. Then they weren't. Expect to see something similar with the DPRK and their technological advancements. Also, they do have things that we didn't have back then. Computers and examples from a lot of other nations.”
Dr. William Braford, who holds a Ph.D. in International Relations, has a Masters in international law from Harvard and is internationally recognized security expert, told IJR:
“What the test reflects is a marriage of intent and an attempt at capacity, specifically the capacity to deliver nuclear weapons against U.S. targets. This factual predicate supplies all that is necessary under international law for the U.S. to engage in anticipatory self-defense against the North Korean regime.”
North Korea has conducted seven missile tests since President Donald Trump took office. And by the looks of things, they are only aiming to improve their capability.