Today’s Missile Threat
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) possesses an increasingly capable ballistic missile inventory and continues to make progress on its nuclear weapons program. Despite it’s struggling economy, North Korea invests significant financial resources into its weapons of mass destruction program in an effort to deter the United States and its allies. The DPRK refuses to cooperate with the international community in efforts to monitor and roll back its nuclear program. Due to a lack of transparency regarding its nuclear and ballistic missile program and unpredictable leadership, North Korea poses a considerable threat to the United States and allies around the world.
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Iran’s continued and open refinement of ballistic missile technology poses a serious threat to the Middle East, Europe, and the United States and the country has become on of the major proliforators of weapons and technology to terrorist organizations. Coupled with the country’s missile capabilities is its robust civil nuclear program which, despite curtailment by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is shrouded in mystery and could have military applications in the future. This uncertainty, coupled with Iran’s rhetoric involving their nuclear program gives the world a cause for concern.
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Recently, China has emerged as an assertive regional power in the Asia-Pacific with forceful A2/AD capabilities, using advanced ballistic and cruise missiles in conjunction with air and maritime defense systems to deter U.S. military operations in the region. China’s A2/AD is concentrated around Taiwan and the South China Sea, putting U.S. military forces—such as a Carrier Strike Group—and installations in the region within range of precision-guided cruise and ballistic missiles.
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The A2/AD threat to the US mainly comes from China and Russia’s sea, air, space and land – not to mention cyber – denial capabilities. While China represents the “pacing threat” as it asserts its regional hegemony, Russia has been starkly resurgent in its military assertiveness both regionally and projected abroad through extensive proliferation of weapons systems.
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In addition to state actors, non-state actors, such as terrorist groups or self-determination movements, also pose a missile threat to the United States, its partners, and allies. Mostly concentrated in the Middle East, these groups have recently demonstrated an ability to acquire and use ballistic missiles that are commonly acquired from either state sponsors or leftover stockpiles in failed states. In addition to missiles, these groups also pose a significant rocket and mortar threat.
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- Missile Basics
- Today’s Missile Threat
- North Korea
- China’s Anti-Access Area Denial
- Russia’s Anti-Access Area Denial
- Non-State Actors
- Missile Proliferation Index by State
- Notable Missile Tests
- Combat Launches
- Future Ballistic Missile Technology