The GPM Global Forecast is a bi-weekly, members-only article series for 2017. It provides analysis and short-term forecasting on key military, political, and economic events around the globe.
Mystery of North Korea’s Quantum Leap in Missile Technology Solved?
A new study by Michel Elleman of the Institute of Strategic Studies seems to shed some light on how North Korea transformed its missile program from abject failure to existential threat.
Not long ago, the North’s missile program was floundering under the pressure of US-led sanctions, cyberattacks, and sabotage. In the final years of the Obama administration, the expert projection for a nuclear-armed ICBM came in decades, not years. But then the pace of technological progress in the North sped up dramatically. Pyongyang launched a series of successful tests that put continental US cities in missile range for the first time ever. The tests involved a different type of engine, the Soviet-made RD-250 which had formed the basis of the Soviet Union’s long-range missile fleet. Fast-forward to the present and the North’s nuclear capacity is suddenly credible, leaving US military and policy planners scrambling to come up with a response.