RUSI NewsbriefVOLUME 37ISSUE 5members only

Towards an Assessment of North Korea’s Strategic Deterrent

Main Image Credit This image, released on 29 November 2017, shows the test launch of North Korea’s Hwasong-15 ICBM. In the best-case scenario for Pyongyang, each warhead it fires at the US has only around a one in seven chance of arriving. Image courtesy of KCNA/UPI

North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test shows that it is determined to create an effective nuclear deterrent. But what is the likelihood of a single North Korean warhead successfully hitting a target in the US?   

North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test has put it back to the top of the international security agenda. Estimates suggest that this significantly upgraded system might have a range of around 13,000 km, if equipped with a relatively light payload. Even US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has acknowledged that Pyongyang could reach anywhere in the world with this system. There is no sign that North Korea is about to let the US strategy of ‘maximum pressure’ deter it fro

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Tom Plant

Senior Associate Fellow

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