A former NASA scientist has warned that North Korea is just one mistake away from sparking World War Three.
Dr David Baker, who advised the Reagan administration during the Cold War, spoke out after Kim Jong-un tested his most powerful ICMB to date which puts most of the world within range.
Dr Baker said the dictator is taking ‘considerable’ risks with such tests which could see a missile malfunction and veer off-target.
‘This is quite dangerous given the proximity of peripheral states who would accept as a declaration of war any stray missile hitting their territory, whether it carried a warhead or not,’ he said.
North Korea is just one mistake away from sparking World War Three if one of its test missiles malfunctions and hits a neighbouring country, ex-NASA scientist Dr David Baker warns (file)
Kim Jong-un is placing ‘considerable’ faith in the guidance systems of his missiles, Dr Baker said, adding that even advanced nations struggle to keep the weapons on track
‘The risk is considerable. Even technologically advanced nations struggle to keep these missiles on track.’
He pointed to the example of a British test off Cape Canaveral last year when a ballistic missile had to be destroyed after it was accidentally launched at America, rather than into open waters near Africa.
‘North Korea is putting considerable faith in the guidance systems of these missiles,’ he added.
He added that the hermit state could now be as little as a year away from gaining the ability to bring a nuclear weapon back down to earth intact.
Dr Baker said the situation on the Korean Peninsula is rapidly becoming more dangerous than the Cuban Missile Crisis
‘If North Korea were to demonstrate that ability with a missile launched deep into the Pacific Ocean, that would be more dangerous than the Cuban Missile Crisis,’ he said.
He added: ‘That would almost certainly cause a military response from America, and I would not rule out the use of tactical nuclear strikes in that situation.
‘We are living in increasingly dangerous times. The movement towards accepting the use of nuclear arms in a conflict is being lowered year by year.’
President Trump vowed to ‘take care of’ the situation in a brief response after the latest test which came around 3am WednesdayUnited States Ambassador to the United Nations, Korea time.
Dr Baker worked with NASA on the Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle programmes between 1965 and 1990 and served as an advisor to the US Government.
He was closely involved with the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks and ‘Star Wars’ ballistic missile defence system during the Cold War in the 1970s and 1980s
Kim Jong-un declared North Korea to be a nuclear state following the country’s latest missile test, which took place around 3am Wednesday on Korea time.
President Trump has vowed to ‘take care of’ North Korea following the latest test, though gave no further details of his plans
The projectile traveled about 620 miles and landed within 200 nautical miles of Japan’s coast, observers said.
North Korea said the missile reached an altitude of around 2,780 miles – more than 10 times the height of the international space station – and was deliberately fired upwards to limit the range.
If the Hwasong-15 had been fired on a typical trajectory, analysts believe it would have a maximum range of around 8,000 miles (13,000km) – leaving only South America and a small part of Africa beyond it’s reach.
The launch, which broke a 10-week hiatus in testing, prompted condemnation from around the world – including from Russia and China.
A summit of regional leaders and Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, is expected to take place on Wednesday to discuss a response.