There are hints of a "key vulnerability" in North Korea's military, and it involves a shortage of something critical to the regime's intercontinental ballistic missile force, according to defense experts.
Based on analysis from Thursday's military parade in North Korea, experts say it appears the nuclear-armed state has a shortage of big transporter-launcher vehicles used for carrying and helping to launch the ICBM-class Hwasong-15 — the largest and most powerful weapon in the regime's arsenal. The large vehicles make the ballistic missile road-mobile capable and therefore tougher to detect and destroy before a launch.
"It seems like the parade kind of showed that they haven't quite mastered domestic production of these vehicles," said David Schmerler, research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California. "If they were going to try to find an opportunity to demonstrate that they could not only produce lots of ICBMs but the ability to launch them on mobile vehicles, this would have been the opportunity to have done it."
Under the watchful eye of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, there were just four of the so-called transporter erector launcher (TEL) vehicles for the Hwasong-15 ICBM, according to analysts. Also, those heavy-duty trucks with the big tires normally carry the Hwasong-15 ICBMs, but the missiles were paraded on Thursday on tractor-trailer trucks, not TELs.