What is an ICBM and why should we be worrying?
Here is what we know now.
What is an ICBM?
An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is a missile that has the ability to carry a warhead more than 3,400 miles either through the air, or through space.
The missile must be able to survive re-entry if it flies through space.
The missile would normally be used to deliver a nuclear weapon but could carry conventional warheads.
An ICBM is different from other ballistic missiles because it can be launched more quickly and can fly farther than other ballistic missiles.
What does “ballistic missile” mean?
A ballistic missile is powered and guided toward a target but falls under gravity onto its target. The trajectory is a high, arching path.
What kinds of missiles has North Korea tested?
Can the missile deliver a nuclear weapon to the U.S. mainland now?
Weapons experts believe that the North Koreans are likely about two years away from developing a missile that can reach the United States mainland. The U.S. is 6,434 miles from the Korean Peninsula.
There has been no evidence that North Korea has miniaturized a nuclear warhead, something they would have to do to deliver such a weapon to the U.S. mainland.
Can the U.S. shoot it down?
The job of the Missile Defense Agency is to develop ways to defend against such weapons. However, a test of a new defense system carried out in Japan in June did not have great results. The test of the SM-3 intercepter failed.
A defense system that North Korean officials often refer claim is threatening to its people is the THAAD (Thermal High Altitude Area Defense) system. THAAD is meant to intercept short-, medium- and intermediate-range missiles. It has a range of around 125 miles.
Why be concerned?
North Korea’s leader is considered unstable and his regime is a brutal one. It is believed that North Korea spends between one-quarter and one-third of its GDP on the military and weapons development in a country where nearly 2 million people starved to death in the 1990s.
On the first of the year, Kim promised that his country would carry out a test of an ICBM. After seven months, it has. Defense officials in North Korea say they exploded a hydrogen bomb in 2016.
Kim has vowed to use the weapons the country is now testing. On Wednesday, he said North Korea would “demonstrate its mettle to the U.S." and that its weapons programs would never be part of any negotiation with the United States.
© 2018 Cox Media Group.