The North showed off the missiles on transporter-erector-launchers during the parade to mark the centennial of the April 15 birth of the country's late founder Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un. The display sparked intense speculation on the North's ballistic missile capability following its botched rocket launch earlier this month.
"At first glance, the missile seems capable of covering a range of perhaps 10,000 kilometers. However, a closer look reveals that all of the presented missiles are mock-ups," Markus Schiller and Robert H. Schmucker, analysts with Schmucker Technology in Germany, wrote in an English-language report posted on a nuclear arms control and nonproliferation blog last week.
"There is still no evidence that North Korea actually has a functional ICBM."
The two said, "At a closer look, it is impossible to find a real warhead separation plane on any of the observed ICBMs," adding that the surface structure is another indication that the warhead is a mock-up.
"A real warhead's casing has to resist thermal and structural loads of an atmospheric reentry and is certainly not designed this way," the experts said.
The two also said a road-mobile missile of this size is always solid-fueled, though there are visible elements at each stage that look like filling or draining valves for liquid propellants.
"These elements only make sense on a liquid-fueled stage," the report said.
They suspected that the erector-launcher vehicle, whose maximum total weight is 122 tons, is oversized for a rocket weighing less than 40 tons.
The experts said it is not possible to securely bolt the missile to the launch table, saying the hole that might hold the bolt aligns with the outer diameter of the missile, or very close to it.
They said every presented missile features slightly different cable duct positions and slightly different positions of the ominous white bands, noting these bands appeared to have been added only for looks since no functional purpose could be identified.
"North Korea obviously presented the World's first liquid-fueled solid missile, in six different versions. There is no doubt that these missiles were mock-ups," the two wrote in the report.
They said the North seemed to have staged the whole presentation to celebrate the milestone anniversary and to gain some strategic leverage, though they said it remains unknown if the mock-ups were designed to confuse foreign analysts, or if the designers simply did some sloppy work.
"For now, the ICBM presentation was nothing else than a nice dog and pony show," the two said.