North Korea Missile Test Fails Shortly After Launch

It looks like the North Koreans blew themselves up again:

A North Korean missile fired Wednesday exploded “within seconds of launch,” according to US Pacific Command.

US officials confirmed North Korea had attempted to launch a missile near Kalma, on the country’s east coast, but early reports suggest it failed.
“South Korea and the US are aware of the missile launch and to their knowledge North Korea’s missile was not successfully launched,” South Korea’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
Neither the US nor South Korea have released information on what type of missile was fired, or why it failed. The US Pacific Command said it was working with partners to assess it further.  [CNN]
You can read more at the link, but no word on what type of missile this was yet.  Considering that the missile failed it makes me wonder if it was yet another Musudan test?

North Korea Claims to Have Tested A New Rocket Engine

There doesn’t seem to be much details about what is new about this rocket engine.  My guess would be it is using solid and instead of liquid fuel which means it is easier to hide the missiles and quickly fire them:

North Korea claimed it successfully tested a powerful new rocket engine on Sunday, signaling defiance as the U.S. secretary of state visited China.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observed the test of a new high-thrust engine at dawn at the Sohae satellite launching pad, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.

It quoted him as saying the test “declared a new birth of the Juche-based rocket industry.” Juche, or self-reliance, refers to the communist state’s official ideology.

The test occurred as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was due to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Tillerson is pushing for closer China-U.S. cooperation on dealing with the growing threat from North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

China was the last stop on his three-country tour that also took him to South Korea and Japan.

Tillerson has suggested President Donald Trump’s administration may adopt a tougher strategy toward the North. In Seoul, he warned that the U.S. would consider pre-emptive military action if the threat reaches a level “that we believe requires action.”

KCNA said the “Korean-style” engine was developed by the Academy of the National Defense Science.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

 

Picture of the Day: North Korea’s Four SCUD Launch

N.K. releases photos on ballistic missile launches

This photo, released by North Korea’s state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper on March 7, 2017, shows four ballistic missiles being fired during a drill at the Hwasong artillery units of the North Korean Army’s Strategic Force. The paper, published by the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, said the North’s top leader Kim Jong-un inspected the drill. North Korea on the previous day fired four ballistic missiles from an area near Tongchang-ri in northwest North Korea. They flew as far as 1,000 kilometers before landing within or very close to Japan’s exclusive economic zone. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

North Korea Believed to Have Test Fired Solid Fuel Intermediate Range Missile

This is a pretty significant development because a solid fuel missile on a mobile launcher would allow the North Koreans to launch with little to no indications or warning against targets in Japan with this missile:

Pukguksong-2 missile

In this photo taken on Feb. 12, 2017, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) observes the test-firing of a Pukguksong-2 missile through binoculars. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

South Korea’s military said Monday that North Korea appears to have employed technologies used in submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) to develop a new type of intermediate-range rocket, citing its analysis of a launch test carried out by Pyongyang a day earlier.

“North Korean leader Kim Jong-un likely ordered the task of developing a surface-to-surface Pukguksong-2 missile based on the successful SLBM test carried out in August. We have reached an assessment that the North is in the process of developing a ballistic missile with a greatly extended strike range,” an official from Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

Pyongyang called the new missile Pukguksong-2. The SLBM launched in August carried the name Pukguksong-1, a name which translates as the “North Star.”

The remark came after the JCS initially identified the type of missile fired from Bangyon air base in the western province of North Pyongan Province at 7:55 a.m. as a medium-range Rodong or modified Rodong, and then changed their assessment to a modified Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM).

The missile reached a height of 550 kilometers after being fired at a high angle and flew about 500 km before splashing down into the East Sea.

As the launch was conducted in a “lofted” style, it put the missile into a high trajectory rather than a lower one that would allow it to fly much farther.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Was North Korean Missile Launch In Response to Trump and Abe Meeting?

I think it is more than coincidence that the Kim regime decided to interfere with President Trump’s and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s golf game this weekend by firing off this missile:

This photo first released on Jan. 24, 2017, by North Korea’s state-run news organization, KCNA, shows a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile being test-fired from a launcher in North Korea on June 22, 2016. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

Pyongyang fired a missile into waters off its eastern coast Sunday morning, the first test-firing by North Korea this year and since U.S. President Donald Trump took office, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Launched from Banghyon Air Base in North Pyongyan Province at 7:55 a.m., the missile reached an altitude of about 550 kilometers (342 miles) and flew 500 kilometers before splashing into the East Sea, both figures which indicate that it wasn’t an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), said an official from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

It appears that the missile was a Rodong medium-range class meant to target Japan, according to another South Korean military source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

The Rodong or Nodong missile is a missile developed primarily to target Japan which is further evidence that the Trump-Abe meeting this week is why they fired the missile when they did.  With that said it is important to keep things in perspective.  The Nodong is a missile they have fired plenty of times in the past and this test firing was on a known test trajectory that safely impacted in the Sea of Japan.  If it wasn’t for the fact that it was North Korea test firing this missile most people would not care.

Here is how President Trump and Prime Minister Abe responded during a hastily called news conference at Trump’s golf club:

United States President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have condemned North Korea’s latest missile launch.

United States President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have condemned North Korea’s latest missile launch.

Trump and Abe issued their statements on the North’s surprise ballistic missile launch on Sunday during an unscheduled joint news conference in Florida.

Abe said that North Korea’s most recent missile launch is absolutely intolerable, urging the North to fully comply with relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Trump said that he wants everybody to understand and fully know that the United States stands behind its great ally Japan 100 percent.  [KBS World]

Here is how the ROK has responded:

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) denounced North Korea for its latest ballistic missile launch.

Following North Korea’s missile launch Sunday morning, the JCS issued a statement, calling the military action a “grave threat to peace and safety of South Korea and the international community.”

The JCS warned that the Kim Jong-un regime will only see its collapse unless it wakes up from the delusion of nuclear and missile provocations.

The JCS said the missile launch is unacceptable and the military is prepared to immediately respond to any North Korean provocation.

The South Korean military stressed that the missile launch came in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.  [KBS World]

I think the response was handled well by everyone because on the scale of North Korean provocations this is very low and people should not over react to it in my opinion which so far no one is appearing to do.

Expert Believes North Korea Using Iranian Missile Test to Judge Trump’s Reaction

It does make me wonder if the Kim regime and the Mullahs in Iran coordinated their recent missile test in order to test the reaction of the Trump administration:

North Korea missile test

North Korea is expected to watch closely how the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump responds to Iran’s missile launch and what policy the new administration puts together on Pyongyang before it carries out its threatened missile test, a U.S. expert said Sunday.

“It has been my contention that N.K. would delay testing an ICBM or a nuclear test until they had a better read on the Trump administration. They will closely watch the U.S. response to Iran’s test,” Ken Gause, a senior North Korea analyst at CNA Corp. in Washington, told Yonhap News Agency.  (…….)

The Trump administration has shown toughness on Iran’s missile test. The Treasury Department slapped fresh sanctions over the missile test. National Security Advisor Mike Flynn warned the U.S. was “officially putting Iran on notice.” Asked if he’s willing to consider a military option, Trump said Thursday that “Nothing is off the table.”  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I think if North Korea tries anything I think they would do it in March during the Key Resolve military exercise timeframe.  They have historically launched their shorter range SCUDs during military exercises which I expect they would likely do again this year.

 

Expert Believes Iranian Ballistic Missile Test Was Not A Musudan

The missile that Iran recently test had some believing they may have tested North Korea’s Musudan missile.  According to one expert the test by Iran was not a Musudan they have had one successful flight test of, but likely an equivalent of North Korea’s No Dong missile that North Korea has a long history of successful flight tests with:

Iranian Ballistic Missile Test

Chances are low that the ballistic missile recently test-fired by Iran could have been North Korea’s Musudan intermediate range ballistic missile, a defense expert said.

Iran launched the missile on Jan. 29, which flew about 1,000 kilometers. Media reports have since surfaced suggesting that the missile could be the same as North Korea’s Musudan missile, which, if confirmed, would mean missile cooperation between the two countries is still ongoing.

But Michael Elleman, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said in an article carried by the website 38 North that there is little possibility that the Iranians have tested the Musudan.

“If the Iranian missile were modeled on the 3,000 kilometer-range Musudan, it would be an intermediate-range ballistic missile, contrary to the U.S. description of the Khorramshahr as a medium-range ballistic missile,” Elleman said.

While the July 2016 and January 2017 test flights conducted by Iran were largely successful, North Korea’s tests of the Musudan failed soon after launch in six of eight attempts, a wide discrepancy that is difficult to explain even if Iran is more capable at missile development, he said.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: North Korean ICBM Test Coming In Wonsan?

N. Korea likely to conduct ICBM test

This satellite image, captured from the website 38 North on Jan. 23, 2017, shows a series of improvements at the Kalma missile test site near North Korea’s eastern coastal city of Wonsan that the North has made. Joseph Bermudez, a North Korea military expert, said the satellite imagery raises the possibility of the regime carrying out a threatened test of an intercontinental ballistic missile from there. (Yonhap)

Should President Trump Pursue an ICBM and Nuclear Testing Freeze Deal with North Korea?

Foreign Policy has a good article published that tries to give perspective to the hysteria created by Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s speech which caused so many people in the US to get in a panic about an upcoming ICBM test:

Of course, it is an obvious inference that North Korea might test an ICBM in 2017. We should probably expect an ICBM test to come sooner or later. But Kim didn’t commit to an ICBM test in 2017. He indicated that one was possible. And he also restated North Korea’s long-standing demands for reducing tensions. You don’t have to think Kim’s offer is an appealing one or that he is sincere. Frankly, I have my doubts on both accounts. But he did make an offer.

That isn’t what got reported of course. “North Korea Will Test Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, Kim Says,” blared the New York Times. The headline was a heck of a lot less careful than the story, by Choe Sang-Hun. Eventually, the editors toned down the headline, but too late. By that time, the damage was done. Kim’s speech wound its way through the news and social media, cut up and condensed into 140-character snippets like a modern-day game of telephone. In the end, his bland speech had been transformed into a “grim promise” to test “a missile to reach U.S.”  [Foreign Policy]

This is nothing new in regards to the media sensationalizing everything coming out of North Korea.  The Foreign Policy article goes on to explain how in response to these news articles various US government officials have inflamed tensions with North Korea further.  To calm things back down this is the recommendation given:

North Korea’s demand that the United States cancel all its exercises is a nonstarter, but Washington could offer further transparency and agree to some limits on their scale. There are lots of good reasons to do this, not least because the bomber appearances are losing their shock value. They have become a poor substitute for a strategy. We might as well get something for taking a break from them.

We don’t have to work out all the details in advance. But the basic framework for a potential compromise is clear: scaling back the exercises in 2017 that Kim complained about in his speech for his agreement to refrain from nuclear and missile testing during the same period. It is a timeout to reduce tensions while Trump and Kim figure each other out.

I recommend reading the whole article at the link, but I think the idea isn’t too bad depending on what scaling down of the military exercises means?  The North Koreans want to take every opportunity to drive a wedge between the US and the ROK and the annual military exercises are a major component of readiness and team building between the two country’s militaries.  They should not be canceled, but it may be worth determining what could be scaled back and see if there is any interest from the North Koreans in freezing their testing in return.

Report Says North Korea Has Two ICBMs Placed on Mobile Launchers

Yonhap is reporting that the North may have two ICBMs ready to launch in the coming days or weeks:

North Korea has probably built two missiles presumed to be intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and placed them on mobile launchers for test-firing in the near future, military officials said Thursday.

The two missiles are estimated to not exceed 15 meters in length, making them shorter than the North’s existing ICBMs, the 19-20 meter-long KN-08 and the 17-18 meter-long KN-14, the officials familiar with the matter told Yonhap News Agency.

The North appears to have intentionally leaked the new missiles to send a “strategic message” to the incoming government of Donald Trump who takes office on Friday, they said.

The officials didn’t provide the exact date for when the missiles were picked up by intelligence, although it is estimated that the U.S. detected them on Monday when the U.S. Navy hurriedly moved its sea-based X-band radar system to the western part of the Pacific Ocean from seas off Hawaii.

Experts say the North is likely to fire off a new ballistic missile that flies some 2,500 kilometers and claim that it has succeeded in launching an ICBM. An ICBM usually has a range exceeding 5,500 kilometers.

“It will take at least two to three years for Pyongyang to master ICBM capabilities and five more years before they can be deployed operationally,” said Kim Dong-yeob, a professor at Kyungnam University’s North Korean studies school.

The North is widely expected to test-fire a missile when the Trump government outlines its policies toward the communist state or around the time of the annual Seoul-Washington joint military drill kickoff in March.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but considering their trouble getting the Musudan missile to reliably work it seems the chances of a road mobile ICBM working is pretty low.