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North Korea’s Military Parade: Hwasong-16 Has Arrived?

Hwasong-16 ICBM
What appears to be a new Hwasong-16 ICBM.

Despite North Korea being hammered this year by three typhoons, constant food insecurity issues, international sanctions and now threats from COVID-19, the Kim regime has shown the world once again its long-range missile program will continue to advance with each passing day.

What Pyongyang has shown us, what appears to be a new liquid-fueled ICBM that seems to be a derivative of what was tested back in late 2017, known as the Hwasong-15, is much bigger and clearly more powerful than anything in the DPRK’s arsenal. In fact, this may end up being classified as the Hwasong-16 ICBM by western military analysts.

Such a massive road-mobile missile–likely the biggest such missile on the planet–would have the capability to add either increased range or be able to carry a bigger payload. Carrying a big payload would allow North Korea to do potentially three things:

1. Carry a larger and even deadlier nuclear weapon to a target, like a U.S. city or military base.

2. Utilize penetration aids to defeat U.S. missile defenses.

3. Potentially install multiple warheads in one missile, or what is called multiple independent reentry vehicles, or MIRV technology. This would allow North Korea to fire one missile and attack multiple different targets thanks to having several different warheads in the nosecone of the missile.


New what appears to be Hwasong-16 ICBM

While North Korea’s growing missile capabilities are surely concerning, I would argue the bigger worry is the clear lack of any Coronavirus safety measures such as masks or social distancing where thousands of people congregated. This parade could end up being the ultimate super spreader event if just a few people were to be infected.

Kim Jong-un clearly has put his people and ultimately himself at great risk as North Korea has very few tools to combat such a deadly virus as its healthcare system is one of the worst in the world. Ultimately, this foolish display could test the regime’s stability if the virus were to spread far and wide–an unforced error of perhaps historic magnitude. There is no missile worth showing off worth such a risk.

Written By

Harry J. Kazianis (@Grecianformula) is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive and serves as President and CEO of Rogue States Project, a bipartisan national security think tank. He has held senior positions at the Center for the National Interest, the Heritage Foundation, the Potomac Foundation, and many other think tanks and academic institutions focused on defense issues. He served on the Russia task force for U.S. Presidential Candidate Senator Ted Cruz, and in a similar task force in the John Hay Initiative. His ideas have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, CNN, CNBC, and many other outlets across the political spectrum. He holds a graduate degree in International Relations from Harvard University and is the author of The Tao of A2/AD, a study of Chinese military modernization. Kazianis also has a background in defense journalism, having served as Editor-In-Chief at The Diplomat and Executive Editor for the National Interest.