David Wright

Co-director and senior scientist

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Dr. Wright received his PhD in physics from Cornell University in 1983, and worked for five years as a research physicist. He was an SSRC-MacArthur Foundation Fellow in International Peace and Security in the Center for Science and International Affairs in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and a Senior Analyst at the Federation of American Scientists. He is a Fellow of the American Physics Society (APS) and a recipient of APS Joseph A. Burton Forum Award in 2001. He has been at UCS since 1992. Areas of expertise: Space weapons and security, ballistic missile proliferation, ballistic missile defense, U.S. nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons policy. David also blogs on the Equation.

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David's Latest Posts

North Korean ICBM Appears Able to Reach Major US Cities

Based on current information, today’s missile test by North Korea could easily reach the US West Coast, and a number of major US cities. Read more >

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Reentry Heating from North Korea’s July 4 Missile Test

In a previous post, I estimated what North Korea could have learned from its May 14 Hwasong-12 missile test that is relevant to developing a reentry vehicle (RV) for a longer range missile.

I’ve updated the numbers in that post for the July 4 missile test (Table 1). In particular, I compare several measures of the heating experienced by the RV on the July 4 test to what would be experienced by the same RV on a 10,000 km-range missile on a standard trajectory (MET). Read more >

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North Korea Appears to Launch Missile with 6,700 km Range

Current reports of North Korea’s July 4 missile test say the missile had a range of “more that 930 km” (580 miles), and flew for 37 minutes (according to US Pacific Command).

A missile of that range would need to fly on a very highly lofted trajectory to have such a long flight time.

Assuming a range of 950 km, then a flight time of 37 minutes would require it to reach a maximum altitude of more than 2,800 km (1700 miles).

So if the reports are correct, that same missile could reach a maximum range of roughly 6,700 km (4,160 miles) on a standard trajectory.

That range would not be enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but would allow it to reach all of Alaska.

There is not enough information yet to determine whether this launch could be done with a modified version of the Hwasong-12 missile that was launched on May 14.

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North Korea’s May 21 Missile Launch

A week after the test launch of an intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missile, North Korea today tested a medium-range missile. Based on press reports, this appears to be a Pukguksong-2 missile, which is the land-based version of the submarine-launched missile it is developing. This appears to be the second successful test of this version of the missile. Read more >

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Warhead Reentry: What Could North Korea Learn from its Recent Missile Test?

As North Korea continues its missile development, a key question is what it may have learned from its recent missile test that is relevant to building a reentry vehicle (RV) for a long-range missile. Read more >

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