In the absence of much trace of understanding, in any faction of our news media, of the basics of physics and the technical side of weapons systems, here is a list of what the Dear Young Leader has – and what he does not have. This list is based solely on public media reports and the Internet, NSA please note.
- Nuclear bombs, apparently about 60, has enough material to manufacture more, and he’s tested them at least nine times. So, he has bombs.
- Missiles to throw them with, he’s demonstrated a long reach now, could reach perhaps anything in the western USA – such as the mountains of Colorado, or Las Vegas. (Probably not Vermont, yet.)
- And according to an intel estimate revealed yesterday, they have – reportedly – now compressed their bomb design into a package small enough to fit on top of a missile.
What he does NOT have, yet:
- A warhead (enclosing capsule) for the top of said missiles, with proven capability to be guided to land at or anywhere near a desired location, when flung on a flat long-reach trajectory.
- A warhead with proven capability to survive re-entry into the atmosphere on that flat trajectory. (Time is a factor here.)
- A bomb design inside that warhead with the proven capability to detonate at the precise fraction of a second that it needs to, just before it slams back into the Earth – or indeed, to detonate at all after the rigors of re-entry. (These are not trivial – both vibration and heat are abundant.)
Until these are acquired, they don’t really have ICBM’s – but we do.
How long will it take for the DYL to acquire these latter capabilities?
I don’t think that anyone knows. One guess is one to two more years. And acquiring those latter capabilities will require very public testing. So, we will know.
For comparison, our Trident missiles carry up to 8 warheads each, and each can be independently targeted at separate targets, with reasonable reliability. The acronym for this is MIRV. By contrast, the last I checked the Chinese have one big bomb on each of their missiles; they recently tested a MIRV (with 10 warheads) but there is no evidence that this capability is deployed, e.g. installed on a weapon in a silo.
In summary, for nuclear weapons we have a sharp sword capable of inflicting precise damage in many locations at once, the Chinese have larger blunt instruments capable of hammering enormous damage upon fewer locations, and the Hermit Kingdom has nothing. Yet.