Speed Reads

all eyes on north korea

North Korean photos indicate the possibility of new missiles that are harder to destroy in advance

Photos released Wednesday by North Korea's state-run media appear to show the country is developing two new ballistic missiles that are easier to transport, hide, and quickly launch, CNN reports. "This is the North Koreans showing us, or at least portraying, that their solid-fuel missile program is improving at a steady rate," said David Schmerler, a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

In the photograph, a diagram for a "Pukguksong-3" missile appears to show the latest model of the country's Pukguksong series and is "definitely new" in the words of Michael Duitsman, who is also a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Another harder-to-see diagram appears to show a new Hwasong missile.

Both North Korean missiles are solid-fuel projectiles, as are all ballistic missiles owned by the United States and Russia, CNN reports. "Solid-fuel missiles are much faster to deploy ... a solid fuel missile is always fueled so all they have to do is drive it to the place they want to launch it," Duitsman told CNN. "It's much easier to put into action, much harder to catch before it launches because they're a lot less in terms of launch preparations that could be done."

The release of photos with missile diagrams in the background is no accident, with "the North ... trying to tell the world that its re-entry and solid-fuel technologies are no longer experimental but have reached the stage of mass production," defense analyst Kim Dong-yub of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University told The New York Times. "Though whether that's credible is another matter."