North Korea will be able to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in several years that will be capable of reaching the United States, Deputy Head of the Center of Euroatlantic and Defense Studies at Russia’s Institute of Strategic Research Vladimir Novikov said on Friday.
The expert made this statement at a roundtable discussion on the North Korean nuclear missile program and Pyongyang’s new test of a ballistic missile.
"Probably, this missile is an intermediate stage in developing intercontinental missiles capable of hitting the United States," he said.
"In five-seven years, we’ll see a missile power," he added.
The expert called the launch of an intermediate-range missile made by North Korea on February 12 "a big military and technical breakthrough."
"The main thing is that this is a solid propellant missile that has two advantages. First, the time of its preparation for a launch is less than that of liquid propellant missiles and it is more difficult to detect its preparation for a launch. Secondly, it features elements of mobility, which increases the missile’s survivability," Novikov said.
The expert said he believed that the availability of missiles of this class complicated the efforts to resolve the problem of the North Korean nuclear program, noting at the same time that in his opinion "North Korea’s nuclear missile potential is not aimed against Russia."
In turn, Head of the Section of Korea and Mongolia at the Institute of Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Vorontsov presumed that "North Korea may develop an intercontinental missile already in four years."
"North Korea is carrying out a missile program that requires tests," the expert said.
"Last year, 25 tests were held. This launch is the continuation of the program’s development and this is a cause of concern for the United States and South Korea," the expert said.