Today, North Korea launched its first real ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) that was capable of reaching Alaska and some of the Western part of the United States. The missile wasn’t necessarily under control, but it did prove that Kim Jong Un and his country are capable of attacking the West already.
How much do North Korea’s ICBMs cost? How much to Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles cost in general? How much does North Korea spend on its missile program? Read on…
North Korea Launches ICBM
Technically, an ICBM or Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, is any missile that is capable of flying 5500 Kilometers or more. They are generally (but not always) used for nuclear missiles.
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North Korea has several land-based ICBMs in testing. The one that was tested yesterday was known as the KN-14 internationally, or in North Korea it is known as the Hwasong 14. The missile is launched from a mobile vehicle, meaning it is hard to take out with an airstrike.
North Korea has been working on this type of ICBM at least since the early 2000s. They have been tested a number of times. These weapons are liquid fueled, so they need to be prepared onsite, which can take several hours.
How Much Do North Korea’s ICBMs Cost?
North Korea is a very poor country, but a large percent of their GDP is spent on the military. In fact, while many North Koreans live on a few dollars a day, Kim Jong Un is reported to be worth up to $10 billion.
We don’t know exactly how much North Korea’s ICBMs cost, but we can estimate based on the prices of similar missiles used around the world. Early ICBM designs in the United States cost around $1.5 million per unit in the 1960s.
In today’s dollars, that’s $10-15 million. Most of today’s ICBMs are in a similar price range per unit, although some can reach up to $100 million.
Given that North Korea doesn’t have access to all of the parts and materials that the US has, due to embargos, etc., we would expect that North Korea’s ICBMs cost $25 million or more per ICBM.
That’s several billion in total for the tests that they have performed so far, and it’s likely increasing rapidly.