North Korea Vows to Cripple the U.S. with Fake Missiles

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Following the North Korean military's vow to defeat the U.S. with "powerful modern weapons,"  U.S. analysts have discovered that the country's missiles are actually fakes. The revelation is embarrassing by its own right but doubly so considering the country just threatened to defeat its enemies with the apparently phony weaponry. Called your bluff?

Today, The Associated Press' Eric Talmadge surveys analysts who studied photos of the missiles North Korea trotted out at its recent military parade. At first blush, the missiles appeared to be new and capable of long-range attacks, but after a closer inspection, analysts doubt the missiles could even get off the ground. "The weapons displayed April 15 appear to be a mishmash of liquid-fuel and solid-fuel components that could never fly together," writes the news agency. "The metal is too thin to withstand flight. Each missile was slightly different from the others, even though all were supposedly the same make. They don't even fit the launchers they were carried on." Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker at Germany's Schmucker Technologies say "There is no doubt that these missiles were mock-ups." David Wright, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, says the missiles are actually "clumsy representations of a missile that is being developed." 

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This is all rather amusing considering a Bloomberg report on Wednesday that had North Korea's Vice Marshal Ri Yong vowing to defeat the U.S. with its advanced ballistic missile arsenal. “We are able to continuously corner the U.S. and forcefully retaliate to the enemy’s provocative schemes for war,” Ri said.  He added that the army had developed "powerful modern weapons" capable of bringing down the U.S.

Taken together, this reflects two recurring behaviors we've come to rely on from Pyongyang. First, there's North Korea's exaggerations of its technical prowess, as the breakup of its Unha-3 rocket shortly after launch demonstrated. Second, there's the country's tendency to operate on the cheap. Shortly after the Unha-3's disastrous launch, it was revealed that the effort that went into the failed rocket largely consisted of getting it a new paint job from the failed rocket it launched in 2006. We also learned that the country spent a whopping $15 on its new government website. And all those demands for more government spending on a nutrition program for its people? Ignored. All things considered, 28-year-old Kim Jong-Un must be realizing governing a country isn't as easy as it seems. Smoke and mirrors will only get you so far.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.