North Korea Fires Yet Another Missile

North Korea fires ANOTHER ‘unidentified’ missile as Kim Jong-un threatens WAR

By Henry Holloway & Jamie Micklethwaite /

Kim Jong-un and nuclear explosion GETTYHERE WE GO AGAIN: Kim Jong-un launches his 9th missile this year
North Korea has fired an unidentified projectile, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency has said.

Kim Jong-un has been questing to create a nuclear-capable ICBM able to strike the US – with dozens of tests in the past year.

Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Pyongyang launched a projectile in the eastern direction from Wonsan, Gangwon Province at dawn.

“The president was immediately notified of the situation, and the president ordered the NSC Standing Committee at 7:30 am,” the military statement said.

It added: “The flight distance is around 450 km, and South Korea and the U.S. are in the process of conducting detailed analysis on additional information.”

North Korea is believed to be on the verge of their sixth nuclear bomb test – but have yet to make good of threats to ramp up their nuclear programme.Kim believes securing a nuclear ICBM will cement his rule in the beggar kingdom and also allow him to put further pressure on the US.Trump has taken a hardline on North Korea since taking office in response to a string of missile launches this spring.

India’s Nuclear Hegemony

Pakistan has said that India is capable of producing 2600 nuclear weapons

India Today

Amid heightened tension between the two neighbouring nations in the wake of the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, Pakistan has said that India is capable of producing 2600 nuclear weapons.

Claiming the India has the fastest growing nuclear programme in the world, Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria told reporters in Islamabad that India’s nuclear aspirations pose a threat to strategic stability in the south Asian region.

“Pakistan has been underscoring the risk of diversion by India to imported nuclear fuel, equipment and technology received pursuant to civil nuclear accord and 2008 energy waiver by Nuclear Suppliers Group,” Radio Pakistan quoted Zakaria, as saying.

The top Pakistan official also raised concerns over India’s bid for a permanent membership at the NSG, saying the world community should check the risks involved in allowing New Delhi a seat in the elite group.


Pakistan’s statement regarding India enhancing its nuclear capability has come just days after reports suggested that New Delhi may be rethinking its nuclear doctrine.

India may abandon its ‘no first use’ nuclear policy and launch a preemptive strike against Pakistan if it feared that Islamabad was likely to use the weapons first, a top nuclear expert on South Asia has claimed.

“There is increasing evidence that India will not allow Pakistan to go first,” Vipin Narang, an expert on South Asian nuclear strategy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had said.

He also pointed out that India’s preemptive strike may not be conventional strikes and would also be aimed at Pakistan’s missiles launchers for tactical battlefield nuclear warheads.

What Antiballistic System?

As North Korea claims missile progress, Pentagon plans ICBM interceptor test

As North Korea makes headway in developing a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching the US mainland, the Pentagon is preparing to test its missile interceptor – which has a very inconsistent record, APA reports quoting Sputnik.

First developed during the Cold War as part of former US President Ronald Reagan’s multi-billion dollar “Star Wars” effort to counter Soviet ballistic missiles, the US missile interceptor has only had nine successful tests among the 17 conducted since 1999.

After a recent successful missile test, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the US mainland was in “sighting range for a strike,” and claimed that they have missiles capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead, though this has not been verified.

Earlier this week, US Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart warned a Senate hearing that if Pyongyang’s activities aren’t reined in, “the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland,” calling such an event “inevitable” if action isn’t taken.

Though the Pentagon has a number of missile defense systems, only one of them, the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, is designed to counter a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). This system is also the least reliable, according to critics.

The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency has scheduled the test for Tuesday, when a target will be launched from the Kwajalein Atoll test range in the Pacific. The intention is that the missile will be met by an interceptor launched from an underground chamber at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Missile Defense Agency spokesman Christopher Johnson explained that the target will be custom made to resemble an ICBM, meaning it will travel at a quicker pace than test missiles used in the past.

“We conduct increasingly complex test scenarios as the program matures and advances,” Johnson said on Friday. “Testing against an ICBM-type threat is the next step in that process.”

There has been much saber rattling between Washington and Pyongyang, with the two countries trading barbs and shows of force. North Korea refuses to halt its nuclear weapons and missile testing despite international calls for denuclearization and sanctions from the United Nations.

The US has riled Pyongyang by sending a Navy carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson along with the USS Michigan, a Tomahawk missile-armed nuclear powered submarine, near its waters.

The Problem With Trump’s Big Mouth

Has there ever been a more indiscreet world leader than Donald Trump? We knew in the campaign that he had a big mouth when he was caught on tape bragging about assaulting women and getting away with it, but very few people would have predicted that this propensity to discuss private matters in wildly inappropriate contexts would extend to classified intelligence.

After all,  month after month he excoriated Hillary Clinton for allowing some confidential emails to be inadvertently sent over her personal email server when she was secretary of state. He said it disqualified her, in fact, and “she should not have been allowed” to run for president because of it.

Trump told Clinton to her face that if he were president she would be in jail:

Well, Donald Trump is the president now and several different government entities are investigating his campaign and administration. And he’s been shamelessly blurting out highly sensitive intelligence to foreign adversaries, unstable tyrants and even the press without a second thought.

Trump felt the need to meet with the Russian ambassador and the foreign minister at the behest of Vladimir Putin and in the course of their conversation he bragged that he had “great intel” and proceeded to expose a foreign ally’s asset by giving them  highly sensitive “code-word” intelligence without the ally’s permission. As former CIA chief John Brennan explained in testimony  before Congress this week, while it’s true that a president has the authority to declassify information, he is supposed to follow protocols:

The first [protocol] is that this kind of intelligence is not shared with visiting foreign ministers or local ambassadors. It’s shared through intelligence channels. The second is that, before sharing any classified intelligence with foreign partners, it has to go back to the originating agency to ensure that revealing it won’t compromise sources, methods and future collection capabilities.

There has never been a need for a protocol to guide a proudly ignorant, inexperienced president with a pathological need to brag to everyone he meets, since nobody anticipated such a thing before. Now we know.

And nobody anticipated that this same president would visit the foreign ally he exposed and confirm to reporters from all over the world that it had been the source of that intelligence. But Trump did that too.

And while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put on a good face for the cameras, the effect on the relationship has been profound. After the breach was reported, BuzzFeed spoke to two Israeli intelligence officials who said that this was their worst fear confirmed. One explained, “There has to be trust for this sort of arrangement. I cannot speak for Israel’s entire security apparatus, but I would not trust a partner who shared intelligence without coordinating it with us first.”

Foreign Policy reported that the Israeli defense minister admitted that the two countries have since revised their “protocols” and when asked what they were he tartly replied, “Not everything needs to be discussed in the media; some things need to be talked about in closed rooms.” A certain president shouldn’t talk about such things in closed rooms either, since he is incapable of understanding protocols for anything.

But that wasn’t the only report we had this week of Donald Trump’s loose lips putting national security in danger. The Intercept released a transcript of the Trump’s recent phone call with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. (I wrote about it here.) The actual words were worse than we knew. Not only did the president effusively compliment Duterte on his murderous drug war, he also insulted former President Barack Obama for failing to be equally impressed.

The two leaders  discussed the threat from North Korea, mused about the mental state of Kim Jong-un and batted around the idea that nuclear war might end up being necessary. Trump said he hoped the Chinese would take care of it but promised that if they didn’t the U.S. would. Then he shared some military secrets with a foreign leader widely seen as unbalanced and untrustworthy:

We have two submarines – the best in the world – we have two nuclear submarines – not that we want to use them at all. I’ve never seen anything like they are but we don’t have to use this but [Kim] could be crazy so we will see what happens.

According to BuzzFeed, the Pentagon was in shock:

“We never talk about subs!” three officials told BuzzFeed News, referring to the military’s belief that keeping submarines’ movements secret is key to their mission.

While the US military will frequently announce the deployment of aircraft carriers, it is far more careful when discussing the movement of nuclear submarines. Carriers are hard to miss, and that, in part, is a reason the US military deploys them. They are a physical show of force. Submarines are, at times, a furtive complement to the carriers, a hard-to-detect means of strategic deterrence.

Trump, Duterte, Kim Jong-un and nuclear weapons. What could go wrong?

There are dozens of reasons why America’s allies and adversaries alike are starting to panic a little bit about Donald Trump serving as the supposed leader of the free world. Until now, despite major misgivings, it was not entirely clear whether Trump might grow into the job or whether American institutions and expertise would be able to guide his behavior. After four months it seems clear that’s not as easy as everyone hoped.

In this context, the fact that U.S. officials apparently leaked the identity of the accused Manchester bomber to the press before U.K. authorities were ready to do so was received with sharp irritation by the British government. If this had happened under any other administration, the misunderstanding between two close allies would likely have been handled quietly. But it’s obvious that the gusher of leaks throughout the government and at high levels of the White House has other countries spooked.

Along with the president’s ongoing inability to understand and respect the seriousness of classified intelligence, this lack of trust in the United States government’s basic competence and predictability is making the world order as we’ve known it for the last 60 years suddenly feel very unstable. It will be interesting to see whether the NATO meeting being held over the next few days can provide any sense of reassurance.

The Real “Korea” Problem

Image result for korea iran alliance

Iran is Our Biggest North Korea Problem

Far from being smart and pragmatic, thinking North Korea’s odious regime can be reformed into a better regime seems to rely on magical Unicorns spreading sparkly poop across Pyongyang and infecting their leadership class with hopeful goodness. Getting rid of the Iranian mullah regime is the key to a successful North Korea policy.

Yeah, nice work if you can get it:

Our main argument is that a smart, practical foreign policy on North Korea must include cooperation with China, a controlled Russia, strong assurances to South Korea, the equities of Japan, robust domestic support in the United States and no direct military confrontation to achieve the political objective of a denuclearized Korean peninsula. [emphasis added]

Is that all a successful North Korea policy to bring Kim Jong-Un to his senses rather than to his knees requires? Plus North Korea’s cooperation, of course. A simple oversight, I’m sure.

I feel foolish not to have thought of this approach before. Especially the “equities” of Japan. I don’t know what it means but it sounds awesome.

But really, there are more modifiers than policy in this policy description. And ponder that Russia is the wild card in their framework–not North Korea itself.

And one more thing. Why muddy the waters by pretending that the problem is denuclearizing the “Korean peninsula” when the nuclear problem lies solely north of the 38th parallel?

I remain convinced that our main problem with reacting to North Korea lies outside of North Korea in Iran.

Back when President Bush named the Axis of Evil, I felt the proper response to each was invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam, support for an Iranian revolution to overthrow of Iran’s mullahs, and containment of North Korea until they collapsed–ideally before they get nukes.

We invaded Iraq. And you must admit that having an Iraq that fights rather than supports terrorism; doesn’t slaughter their own Kurds; and which doesn’t seek WMD or threaten to invade Kuwait and points south is a good thing.

But we never supported the people of Iran who polls show like America but don’t like their government. Under Bush, the Democrats would have impeached the man for trying that.

And under Obama there was no interest in that solution given we sided with the mullahs when the people took to the streets in 2009 in support of real reform rather than accepting the rigged elections that perpetuate mullah rule; and given the horrible nuclear deal that shoveled money at Iran with only the fig leaf of delaying Iran’s nuclear threshold a decade (assuming Iran does not cheat).

Ponder that President Obama looked the other way while the Iranian regime suppressed their people in order to pave the way for the monumentally stupid Iran nuclear deal. The Obama administration truly believed that an Iranian ruler was “moderate” if he could avoid screaming “Death to America!” in English while a Western camera was pointed at him.

Unless the Iranian people somehow topple the regime, we’re stuck with this aggressive nutball regime that wants nukes.

In my view, overthrowing Iran’s mullahs was the necessary condition for supporting containment of North Korea. North Korea is awful, but I think they can be deterred from using nukes because their priority is regime survival.

As distasteful as accepting that regime is, the cost of war (and any narrow strike on nuclear targets could easily and rapidly expand to general war) would be monumental. I’m sorry that the North Korean people suffer under this approach, but somebody will and I’d rather it not be us or our allies. Life is rough, eh?

With a nutball Iranian regime that could very well buy nuclear technology from North Korea (or even complete nuclear weapons systems), containing North Korea just enables Iran to go nuclear.

When North Korea announces this, are they just letting a customer know that they are ready to take orders?

North Korea said on Monday it successfully tested what it called an intermediate-range ballistic missile, which met all technical requirements and could now be mass-produced, although U.S. officials and experts questioned the extent of its progress.

You must admit that the nuclear deal with Iran could result in Iran technically abiding fully with the terms of the agreement and also buying nuclear weapons from North Korea.

As long as Iran needs North Korea to get nukes, simply containing North Korea is a less than ideal solution.

Not to mock the authors too much. I do have great respect for SAMS. Maybe my imagination is insufficient to appreciate their policy proposal. Although in my own defense their presentation invited mockery. Yet I do think deterrence rather than use of force could be the policy of choice if North Korea has no nutball customers for their nukes.

And I do want to keep pressure on North Korea. Although I think regime (or state) collapse is the more likely goal rather than hoping that the regime will evolve into something less horrible. North Korea is clearly willing to impoverish and starve their people to remain in power. I think North Korea is wrong to believe nukes are necessary to deter invasion and so remain in power, but the North Korean elites apparently believe it very much.

South Korea evolved from a non-murderous authoritarian regime to a real democracy. North Korea has a long way to just reach South Korea’s starting point. Is there really hope of going even part of the way down that route?

The only way to get to a North Korea policy that doesn’t involve war to destroy North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure is to destroy the mullah regime in Iran before it gets nuclear weapons. Do that and North Korean nukes are a bilateral deterrence issue rather than a proliferation issue.

This makes President’s Trump to the Middle East very significant:

One speech cannot change Arab or Muslim perceptions of the president or the U.S. as an ally. Much will depend on the years and actions that follow. Words really matter, however, and especially in the Middle East. This time, the president used the right words to start rebuilding the foundations of America’s strategic partnerships in the Muslim world and Middle East, and to deal with truly urgent threats. This speech is the right beginning — in remarkably well-crafted terms — and it deserves bipartisan and expert respect.

Indeed, with a focus on defeating Iran that this trip highlights rather than the last administration’s hope to befriend and neuter Iran,

the deal may handcuff Iran’s nuclear production ambitions long enough to defeat the mullahs


And a friendly Iran would have a great effect on our Afghanistan dilemma, too.

US Spreads Its Nukes Into Korean Waters

President Donald Trump told his Philippine counterpart that Washington has sent two nuclear submarines to waters off the Korean peninsula, the New York Times said, comments likely to raise questions about his handling of sensitive information.

Trump has said “a major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible because of its nuclear and missile programs and that all options are on the table but that he wants to resolve the crisis diplomatically.

North Korea has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Washington had “a lot of firepower over there”, according to the New York Times, which quoted a transcript of an April 29 call between the two.

“We have two submarines the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all,” the newspaper quoted Trump as telling Duterte, based on the transcript.

The report was based on a Philippine transcript of the call that was circulated on Tuesday under a “confidential” cover sheet by the Americas division of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

In a show of force, the United States has sent the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to waters off the Korean peninsula, where it joined the USS Michigan, a nuclear submarine that docked in South Korea in late April.

According to the Times, a senior Trump administration official in Washington, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the call and insisted on anonymity, confirmed the transcript was an accurate representation of the call between the two leaders.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said Trump discussed intelligence about Islamic State with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at talks in the Oval Office this month, raising questions about Trump’s handling of secrets.

Trump also praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem”, the New York Times reported, a subject that has drawn much criticism in the West.

Almost 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about one-third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defence during legitimate operations.

North Korea On Path To Nuke The US

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

US lawmakers pressed Stewart and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to estimate how far away North Korea was from obtaining an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could reach the United States.

They repeatedly declined to offer an estimate, saying doing so would reveal US knowledge about North Korea’s capabilities, but Stewart warned the panel the risk was growing.

“If left on its current trajectory the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland,” Stewart said.

“While nearly impossible to predict when this capability will be operational, the North Korean regime is committed and is on a pathway where this capability is inevitable.”

The UN Security Council was to meet on Tuesday behind closed doors to discuss Sunday’s test of a solid-fuel Pukguksong-2 missile, which defies Security Council resolutions and sanctions. The meeting was called at the request of the United States, Japan and South Korea.

John Schilling, a missile expert contributing to Washington’s 38 North think-tank, estimated it would take until at least 2020 for North Korea to be able to develop an ICBM capable of reaching the US mainland and until 2025 for one powered by solid fuel.

But Coats acknowledged gaps in US intelligence about North Korea and the thinking of its leader Kim Jong-un.

He cited technological factors complicating US intelligence gathering, including gaps in surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), which rely on assets such as spy satellites and drone aircraft.

“We do not have constant, consistent ISR capabilities and so there are gaps, and the North Koreans know about these,” Coats said.

Washington has been trying to persuade China to agree to new sanctions on North Korea, which has conducted dozens of missile firings and tested two nuclear bombs since the start of last year.

Last month, US President Donald Trump called North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “madman with nuclear weapons” during a telephone call with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, according to a transcript of a April 29 conversation released by US media on Tuesday.

“We can’t let a madman with nuclear weapons let on the loose like that. We have a lot of firepower, more than he has, times 20. But we don’t want to use it,” Trump said, citing “two nuclear submarines” the Pentagon sent to the area.

Transcribed by the Philippine government, the conversation was released by The Washington Post and The Intercept.

Trump also queried Duterte about whether he believed Kim was “stable or not stable”. The Philippine leader responded their North Korean counterpart’s “mind is not working and he might just go crazy one moment”.

Kim has a “dangerous toy in his hands that could create so much agony and suffering for all mankind”, Duterte added.

But Trump appeared reassured that North Korea’s recent missile tests had failed, saying “all his rockets are crashing. That’s the good news”.

Turning to China and its ability to counter the nuclear threat, Trump pressed Duterte to call Chinese President Xi Jinping to exert pressure.

“I hope China solves the problem. They really have the means because a great degree of their stuff come through China,” Trump said. “But if China doesn’t do it, we will do it.”

Duterte agreed. However, he cautioned: “The other option is a nuclear blast, which is not good for everybody.”

The Threat of the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Image result for brahmos missileThreat of nuclear war against Pakistan | Pakistan

ZKMZahoor Khan Marwat

This was in a marked reversal of its well-known no-first use policy, according to the leading nuclear strategist. “India’s opening salvo may not be conventional strikes trying to pick off just Nasr batteries (launch vehicles for Pakistan’s tactical battlefield nuclear warheads) in the theatre, but a full ‘comprehensive counterforce strike’ that attempts to completely disarm Pakistan of its nuclear weapons so that India does not have to engage in iterative tit-for-tat exchanges and expose its own cities to nuclear destruction,” he said.

Narang cited from Menon’s book “Choices: Inside the Making of Indian Foreign Policy” released in November 2016. “There is a potential gray area as to when India would use nuclear weapons first against another NWS (nuclear weapon state). Circumstances are conceivable in which India might find it useful to strike first, for instance, against an NWS that had declared it would certainly use its weapons, and if India were certain that adversary’s launch was imminent.”

In addition, recent reports in Indian and international media about Indian capacity to launch a disarming first strike have clearly indicated that the BJP led government of India under the Doval-Modi duo is becoming more jingoist with every passing day. It may be noted that India’s nuclear doctrinal developments and employment strategies chiefly remain directed towards Pakistan.

On the other hand, Pakistan has acquired nuclear capability for the sole purpose of security and safeguarding her vital national interests, its territorial integrity and sovereignty and to ensure its security and survival against intense and major aggression. The programme works as a hedge against strategic threats to our security.

Experts believe that regional stability is much needed in South Asia as India touts its nuclear brinkmanship. This can only come through a strategic restraint regime, which would lead to escalation control.

India’s test-firing of 450 km supersonic Brahmos cruise missile without notifying Pakistan has once again brought up the issue of avoiding an arms race in the region and to strive for strategic stability. Pakistan on March 16 this year once again reiterated its proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime for South Asia, which has been more or less on the table since 1998.

The belligerent Indian stance and illogical and unreasonable defence build-up has long been highlighted by Pakistan. India remains the largest importer of defence equipment in the region and its hegemonic designs are endangering peace and security in the region and beyond. It pays lip-service to the objective of non-proliferation and gives morally deplorable false statements against its neighbours while relentlessly pursuing a conventional and strategic arms build-up.

The ongoing nuclear arms race initiated by the Indian hegemonic leadership, which has fundamental discomfort with nuclear weapons in Pakistan, does not augur well in the emerging geo-strategic realities whereby trends are shifting from geo-strategic to geo-economics domain. Pakistan wants to move on and improve its relationship with India in the entire spectrum of international relations whereas India not only threatens Pakistan of massive nuclear retaliation but has also gone on a massive arms purchase spree.

In the absence of strategic restraint, the situation appears to be getting extremely complex and uncertain. Pakistan’s proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime for South Asia remains on the table.

North Korea Fires Another Missile

North Korea fires medium-range missile in latest test

Sunday 21 May 2017 11.36 EDT

North Korea fired a medium-range missile on Sunday, according to US and South Korean officials, the latest ballistics test by a country speeding up its development of nuclear weapons and missiles.

South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said the rocket had been fired from an area near the North Korean county of Pukchang and had flown eastward for about 310 miles (500km). The US Pacific Command said it had tracked the missile before it landed in the sea.

White House officials travelling in Saudi Arabia with the US president, Donald Trump, said the system that was tested, which was last launched in February, had a shorter range than the missiles fired in North Korea’s most recent tests.

The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said both economic and diplomatic pressure would continue to be applied to North Korea in the wake of the launch.

“The ongoing testing is disappointing, disturbing and we ask that they cease that,” Tillerson said on Sunday in an interview with Fox News.

The latest launch comes a week after North Korea successfully tested a new mid-range missile that it said could carry a heavy nuclear warhead.

North Korea has defied all calls to rein in its nuclear and missile programmes, even from China, its lone major ally, calling them legitimate self-defence.

A week ago North Korea claimed the US mainland was now within range of its missiles after it successfully test-fired a new rocket it said was capable of carrying a “large-scale, heavy nuclear warhead”.

The country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, accused the US of “browbeating” countries that “have no nukes”. He told Washington not to misjudge the reality that the US mainland was in Pyongyang’s “sighting range for [a] strike”, the KCNA state news agency reported.

Korea as an Iranian Proxy

Former CIA agent says Iran aiding North Korea as new missile test emboldens Pyongyang

CNBC Jeff Daniels
North Korea’s launch of an intermediate ballistic missile test on Sunday appears to be a new model and shows an improved capability to reach U.S. military bases on Guam. Also, experts said the new missile is a mid-range ballistic missile and suggests Pyongyang maybe getting more proficiency with reentry technology that could be used for longer-range missiles.Such reentry mastery would be required for a nuclear warhead to withstand extreme temperatures and other stresses of atmospheric reentry of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

“It was a significant advance in terms of missiles that seem to be able to carry a fairly heavy warhead and carry it a fairly significant distance,” said Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst and now senior vice president for policy and programs with the Center for Security Policy, a national security think tank based in Washington.

At the same time, Fleitz said there’s “pretty credible information” that the North Koreans have received help in their missile program from Tehran. “It’s going in both directions,” he said.

North Korean on Monday touted the launch on state-run television. Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said the secretive regime’s leader Kim Jong Un “hugged officials” who took part in the rocket test and gave them “the order to continuously develop more precise and diversified nukes and nuclear striking means.”

According to Fleitz, North Korea’s missile program is mostly based on old Soviet missiles but he said there’s been “substantial collaboration between the Iranians and the North Koreans.”

The former CIA analyst added, “The Iranians have been more successful in building space-launch vehicles. They actually further developed some of the designs that they received from North Korea – and they further designed other missiles they got from North Korea. And their improvements have gone back to North Korea.”

For example, Tehran’s Shahab-3 ballistic missile capable of reaching Saudi Arabia from Iranian land is based on technology from North Korea’s Nodong-1 rockets. Also, Iran’s Ghadir small submarine, which this month conducted a cruise-missile test, is a vessel remarkably similar to those used by Pyongyang.

Indeed, Fleitz said there are reports Iranian scientists have attended launches of North Korean long-range missile tests and even nuclear tests. It’s not known if Iranian military or scientists attended the North’s missile test Sunday and it’s also not clear at this time how much help Tehran played in the development of the new missile known as the Hwasong-12.

“I suspect the North Koreans also have tried to find scientists – maybe former Soviet scientists – to try to help them develop these [weapons] programs,” said Fleitz, who held U.S. government national security positions for 25 years.

Fleitz said the North Koreans have proved to be “very good at redesigning older missile designs and developing their own variants.”

Experts say the North Koreans are essentially where the U.S. was in rocket technology in the 1950s.

“Fundamentally this is a problem with physics and engineering for them,” said Todd Harrison, a defense expert and senior fellow of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think-tank.

Added Harrison, “They don’t have to have outside help. This is something with trial and error you can figure this out over time.”

Sunday’s North Korea missile test was believed to be the first type of test where the hermit state achieved such a high angle and significant distance. Analysts say these kind of tests also could speed up the North’s testing program as it moves further away from Soviet-era missiles and begins developing more of its own technology.

“Most likely this puts them a little bit closer to being ready to test an ICBM,” said Jenny Town, the assistant director of the U.S.-Korea Institute in Washington and a managing editor at 38 North, which provides analysis of events in and around North Korea.

Even so, national security experts believe it might not be until after 2020 when Pyongyang might have an ICBM capable of reaching the U.S mainland about 4,800 miles from North Korea. Yet experts say the missile test over the weekend showed the secretive regime is making progress and they also expect more testing of this particular missile in the next several months.

“I think there’s some very tough times ahead coming as this missile program progresses,” said Fleitz.

The former U.S. government intelligence analyst said he believes the day is coming when the U.S. and its allies will have to start shooting down the North’s missiles because they will not know whether the missile is a test or an actual attack.

“If the missile looks very likely to strike Japan from North Korea, we have to shoot it down,” said Fleitz. “Or what if the missile is going out towards Hawaii. We can’t assume that it’s a test.”

To be clear, Fleitz said he’s not advocating an outright attack today on North Korea. “I think it’s a terrible idea because of the possibility of retaliation against Seoul.”

Sunday’s test is believed to be a liquid-fueled missile launched from a mobile launcher, and it’s possible the chassis of the truck may have been one originally supplied to the North by the Chinese as a truck to transport lumber. Some of these Chinese-made transporter-erector launch trucks were displayed at the regime’s April 15 military parade.

The missile landed in the sea between North Korea and Japan and near Russia. Based on KCNA’s information, the medium long-range ballistic rocket flew 489 miles and reached heights of up 1,312 miles.

“If you took that same missile and launched it on a trajectory that was optimized for range, you could actually get a range of over 4,000 kilometers (or 2,485 miles),” said CSIS’s Harrison.

In other words, the Hwasong-12 is capable of reaching targets such as the U.S. territory of Guam, which is located about 2,100 miles away from North Korea. Guam has a population of about 165,000, as well as 6,000 U.S. military personnel currently stationed on the island.

Harrison, who served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, said the North Koreans decided not to test the missile to its range on this test because “it would have been a much more provocative trajectory flying over Japan. What they basically did was fly over their own territory and land over in the sea.”

KCNA said the test was “aimed at verifying the tactical and technological specifications of the newly-development rocket capable of carrying a large-size nuclear warhead.”

Also, KCNA said the missile was tested “at the highest angle in consideration of the security of neighboring countries.”

“Instead of shooting it toward something, they are shooting it further up in the air so that when it comes down the reentry vehicle will simulate the conditions of actual reentry,” said the U.S.-Korea Institute’s expert Town. With this approach, she said the North might then be able to use the test results from such high-angle launches to learn more needed “that would be applicable to a three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile in the future.”

“As it stands now, even though they say they are close to testing an ICBM, we would expect that their first few attempts would fail because it is a rather technical venture,” Town said. “Every country that has ever tested ICBM’s has always failed in their first few attempts.”