Doubts About Success of North Korea ‘ICBM’ Undercut US Sanctions Push

Missile Lacked Many Characteristics of a Real ICBM

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is pushing hard at the UN Security Council for a new round of sanctions against North Korea, related to North Korea firing a “long-range ICBM” earlier this month. That’s facing some serious resistance, particularly from China and Russia.

And while there’s always disputes about the merits of just throwing more sanctions onto the endless pile, the real problem here is less the sanction rationale, and more the “long-range ICBM” basis, which even US officials have conceded is on flimsy ground.

After the missile test, South Korea has quick to point out that the missile was not a proper ICBM because it didn’t have any sort of re-entry capabilities. This was a big problem with any potential long-range flight of the missile.

Pentagon officials later added to the doubts, saying there’s no sign the missile had any sort of guidance system, meaning North Korea couldn’t steer the missile on any long-range flight. Effectively, all North Korea did was take a shorter-range ballistic missile and add a second fuel stage so it would go farther, but doing so in any effective way seems unlikely.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of