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Will North Korea test-launch an ICBM by the end of 2018?

2017 began with an assertion by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that his military was ready to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at "any time, any place." South Korean observers confirmed that such a launch may be imminent.

ICBMs are typically defined as capable of traveling more than 5,500 km (3,400 mi). Missiles with shorter ranges are defined as intermediate-range ballistic missiles, the category in which North Korea's successfully-tested Musudan missile falls.

Early development of ICBMs by the United States and Russia paralleled the space race, since the same missiles in development to deliver nuclear warheads were also used as launch vehicles in the Mercury and Gemini programs and in the Russian counterparts of the same programs.

North Korea's Taepodong rocket, with a range up to 6,000 km, has similarly been used for space launches, although it's unlikely this rocket was designed to carry a nuclear warhead. Instead, North Korea's two ICBMs possibly in development are the KN-08 and the longer-range KN-14.

An ICBM test is likely to have international consequences, particularly in light of U.S. President Donald Trump's assertion that the test "won't happen."

When will North Korea test-launch an ICBM?

This question will resolve as positive when a guided missile with a range of more than 5,500 km, capable of hosting a nuclear warhead, is test-launched by the North Korean government. Resolution is by credible media report, with assessment provided by US or UK government or United Nations. (In case of major controversy in such assessments, resolves as ambiguous.)


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