Experts: North Korea Still Years From Reliable Missle Program

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Even though North Korea finally has a rocket that can put a satellite in orbit, that doesn't mean it's close to having an intercontinental ballistic missile.

North Korea gained attention and prompted outrage from world leaders yesterday with its first successful launch of a three-stage, long-range rocket.

But experts say the North is years away from even having a shot at developing reliable missiles that could hit the American mainland and other distant targets.

A missile program requires decades of systematic testing -- something extremely difficult for economically-struggling North Korea. It faces sanctions and world disapproval each time it stages a launch. It will also need larger and more dependable missiles, and more advanced nuclear weapons, in order to threaten U.S. shores -- though it already poses a threat to its neighbors.

Brian Weeden, an adviser to a think tank on space policy, says there's a "huge gap" between making a system work once, and having one that is reliable enough to be of use to the military.

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