Photographic analysis of North Korea’s new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) reveals the nose cone of the nuclear-capable rocket appears similar to a suspected Chinese-supplied warhead for a Pakistani nuclear-capable missile.
Missile analyst Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, tells Inside the Ring the warhead stage of the new ICBM, dubbed Hwasong-14 and flight-tested with great fanfare July 4, appears very similar to the last stage of a missile tested in January by Pakistan.
The Pakistani medium-range Ababeel missile was flight-tested Jan. 24 and is assessed to be capable of carrying either a conventional or nuclear warhead.
The warhead stage similarities suggest “there is a real possibility that North Korea and Pakistan are continuing their historic cooperation in the development of long-range ballistic missiles,” Mr. Fisher said.
Mr. Fisher said Asian intelligence sources told him that the third warhead stage of the Ababeel is liquid-fueled and was launched atop two solid-fuel stages developed from Pakistan’s Shaheen II or Shaheen III medium-range missiles.
The new Hwasong-14 appears to use three liquid-fuel stages, and the nose cone shown in state-run North Korean video reveals it is nearly identical to the new Pakistan missile nose cone.
“What is important to note is that, according to Indian sources, Ababeel demonstrated either a multiple-warhead capability or the ability to deploy decoys along with a single warhead,” Mr. Fisher said.
The multiple-warhead capability for the Ababeel is likely sourced to China, which has provided Pakistan with nuclear weapons and other missile technology for several decades, he added.