The missiles that were prominently displayed during a recent military parade in North Korea were fakes, according to defense analysts who studied photographs of the devices, renewing skepticism over Pyongyang’s military might.
The Associated Press reported that analysts believe the ‘weapons’ shown in the parade looked like a bizarre combination of liquid-fuel and solid-fuel components. Indeed, some pieces looked mismatched; while the casings of the missiles looked too fragile to withstand flight.
It remains unknown if they were designed this way to confuse foreign analysts, or if the designers simply did some sloppy work.
Since the embarrassing failure of its much-ballyhooed rocket launch a few weeks ago, North Korean government officials have claimed they possess destructive weapons and also renewed their violent rhetoric against South Korea and its president, Lee Myung-bak.
Indeed, on Wednesday, North Korea’s Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho even boasted that his nation has enough firepower to destroy the United States at a single blow.
South Korea and its western allies have long been concerned that North Korea might possess long-range ballistic missiles, as well as the capability to manufacture nuclear weapons.
However, the latest photos suggest that the magnitude of Pyongyang’s military build-up might have been grossly exaggerated.
There is still no evidence that North Korea actually has a functional [intercontinental ballistic missile] ICBM, Schiller and Schmucke wrote, adding that the lavish parade was merely a dog and pony show.”
Still, Western analysts generally believe North Korea is indeed committed to developing sophisticated weaponry.
David Wright, a physicist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the AP: To understand whether there is a real missile development program in place, we are trying to understand whether the mock-ups make sense as the design for a real missile. It is not clear that it has a long enough range to make sense for North Korea to invest a lot of effort in.
Separately, suspicions are increasing that the mobile launchers displayed in the North Korean parade were manufactured by China -- if true, this would represent a violation of United Nations' sanctions that forbid the sale of missile-related technology to Pyongyang.
Meanwhile, North Korea’s vitriol against South Korea continues unabated.
On Wednesday, Ri Yong-ho threatened South Korean leader Lee by declaring that our military and people will cut off [his] windpipes during a televised speech. The comments came after Lee had urged Pyongyang to pay more attention to human rights instead of wasting money on extravagant military parades.