US plans first test of ICBM intercept, with NKorea on mind

Elias Hubbard
May 27, 2017

WASHINGTON-The Pentagon is planning to conduct a test next week of a system created to shoot down intercontinental missiles, USA defense officials said, amid heightening concerns of North Korea's bellicose behavior.

The remarks by Defence Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant-General Vincent Stewart at a Senate hearing on Tuesday are the latest indication of mounting USA concern over Pyongyang's advancing missile and nuclear weapons programmes, which the North says are needed for self-defence.

If the discussion goes smoothly, the group would again seek the ministry's approval in order to ship relief goods to North Korea, the head of the group, Kang Young-sik, said.

The US interceptor has succeeded in nine of 17 attempts since 1999 with the most recent successful test conducted in June 2014, though it was followed by three straight failures. The test has been planned for a while and wasn't meant to be a reaction to North Korea's increasingly frequent missile tests.

Michael O'Hanlon, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told the Herald it's critical the tests hew to battlefield conditions and, specific to missile defense, can find the rocket amid a "cloud" of decoys that could be released by an ICBM.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the South's surveillance plane, called Heron, flew over its western border area four times between 7:46 a.m. and 8:40 p.m. on Friday.

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said this week that "left unchecked", a North Korean missile will eventually be able to reach the United States. The target is not a mock-up of an actual North Korean ICBM. North Korea must also create a viable nuclear warhead it can fit atop a long-range missile in order to reach its goal of developing a nuclear weapon that could hit the United States.

In our news wrap Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart warned that it's inevitable North Korea will develop a nuclear missile that can reach the USA mainland unless something is done to prevent it.

North Korea will eventually obtain a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States if left unchecked, a top USA intelligence official said.

Kim said test launches are part of a normal process for deployment and strengthening military power for defense. Previous trials have been against intermediate-range missiles, which are slower.

The US military is planning a missile defence test next week which for the first time will target an intercontinental-range missile.

Deployed in 2004 by the Bush administration, the GMD has never been used it combat.

"It is critical that America take proactive steps to bolster our missile defense systems so we are prepared in the event of a missile attack directed at our homeland".

There were also claims, later confirmed by US defense officials, that the missile could survive re-entry into the atmosphere.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article