ROK Military Says There Are No Signs of Near Term North Korean ICBM Test

It looks like the US media may be misinterpreting whatever information was leaked to them about an impending North Korea ICBM test:

South Korea’s defense authorities said Thursday there has been no indication of an imminent missile test by North Korea, responding to U.S. news reports that the secretive nation appears to be preparing to fire another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

“There is no activity that would lead to an assessment that a missile provocation by North Korea is imminent,” Army Col. Roh Jae-cheon, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a press briefing.

He pointed out, however, that it’s possible for the North to press ahead with a missile provocation anytime, adding South Korea and the United States are closely monitoring related situations.

Earlier this week, CBS News reported that the North has resumed its missile activity at the same site it shot an ICBM in November.

Newsweek also quoted U.S. officials as saying a new missile test may come as soon as later this week or next week.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Failed April 2017 Missile Test Crashed into North Korean City

Via a reader tip comes an interesting article in The Diplomat that discusses how a failed North Korean missile test in April 2017 came crashing down on a North Korean city:

Images from ICBM celebration concert showing the Hwasong-12 launch from Pukchang Airfield.

What happens when a North Korean ballistic missile test fails in flight and explodes in a populated area? On April 28, 2017, North Korea launched a single Hwasong-12/KN17 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) from Pukchang Airfield in South Pyongan Province (the Korean People’s Army’s Air and Anti-Air Force Unit 447 in Ryongak-dong, Sunchon City, to be more precise). That missile failed shortly after launch and crashed in the Chongsin-dong, in North Korean city of Tokchon, causing considerable damage to a complex of industrial or agricultural buildings.

According to a U.S. government source with knowledge of North Korea’s weapons programs who spoke to The Diplomat, the missile’s first stage engines failed after approximately one minute of powered flight, resulting in catastrophic failure. The missile never flew higher than approximately 70 kilometers. The location of the missile’s eventual impact was revealed exclusively to The Diplomat and evidence of the incident can be independently corroborated in commercially available satellite imagery from April and May 2017.

The April 28 failure merits close analysis, especially as North Korea continues to carry out flight-testing of its various ballistic missile platforms from a range of new test sites. In 2017, North Korea has introduced new sites for missile testing, arguably to demonstrate the flexibility of its Strategic Rocket Force. It has even carried out ballistic missile launches from a restricted area at Pyongyang’s Sunan Airport, which also serves as the country’s primary civil aviation facility and the entrypoint for most non-Chinese foreign visitors to North Korea. The potential for similar accidents occurring over Pyongyang, the country’s capital, or other populated regions remains high, especially with untested systems.

These risks may even serve to explain why North Korea chose to use the seaside town of Sinpo as its initial test site for the first two failed Hwasong-12 launches in April. An early in-flight failure over the sea would have a lower chance of striking any human infrastructure — certainly populated urban areas. However, since April, North Korea has not carried out any further ballistic missile testing from Sinpo (with the exception of four submarine-launched ballistic missile ejection tests).  [The Diplomat]

I recommend reading the whole thing at the link to include viewing the interesting satellite imagery.

Report Claims North Korea Preparing for SLBM Test

Could an Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile test be the next North Korean provocation?  I guess we will find out:

This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 25, 2016 shows a test-fire of strategic submarine-launched ballistic missile being launched at an undisclosed location. KNS/AFP/Getty

The Pentagon says the U.S. is “well postured” to deal with a possible submarine-launched ballistic missile from North Korea.

The Japanese daily Tokyo Shimbun reported last week that North Korea has completed development of five prototypes for an upgraded SLBM and will likely test it soon.

Pentagon spokesman Robert Manning wouldn’t comment on any matters of specific intelligence regarding North Korea on Monday – but said within the deep arsenal of U.S. capabilities, Washington is well postured to deal with it.  [KBS Global]

You can read more at the link, but an SLBM test is something that has been speculated on for many months.

Tweet of the Day: North Korean Missile Launch Burned Soldier to Death?

Picture of the Day: North Koreans Dance In Celebration of ICBM Test

N. Koreans celebrate missile test

North Koreans dance on the streets of Pyongyang on Nov. 30, 2017, in this photo in celebration of their country’s claimed successful test of a new type of an intercontinental ballistic missile. The North’s Korean Central News Agency, which released this photo, said servicepersons and civilians celebrated the test conducted a day earlier, assessed by the outside world as showing advances in the country’s missile technology.  (Yonhap)

North Korea’s New ICBM May Not Have Enough Power To Deliver a Nuclear Payload to the US

Here is an interesting read from the Associated Press about what experts are saying about North Korea’s new ICBM:

This Nov. 29, 2017, image provided by the North Korean government on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, third from left, and what the North Korean government calls the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile, in North Korea. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

North Korea released dozens of photos Thursday of the Hwasong-15, a new intercontinental ballistic missile it claims can reach any target in the continental United States. The photo dump, published in the paper and online editions of the ruling party’s official daily, is a goldmine for rocket experts trying to parse reality from bluster.

Their general conclusion is that it’s bigger, more advanced and comes with a domestically made mobile launcher that will make it harder than ever to pre-emptively destroy. But there’s a potentially major catch: it might not have the power to go much farther than the West Coast if it is loaded down with a real nuclear warhead, not a dummy like the one it carried in its test launch on Wednesday.  [Associated Press]

You can read more at the link, but experts are skeptical that the North Koreans have miniaturized their nuclear warhead to a low enough weight to where this ICBM can deliver it to the US West Coast.

North Korea Claims After November 28th ICBM Launch that It Can Range Anywhere in the US

It looks like all areas of the continental United States are now at risk of being a target of a North Korean ICBM:

North Korea launched an apparent new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) early Wednesday that reached an altitude of about 4,500 kilometers and traveled 960 kilometers before falling into the East Sea inside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

The missile launch, which broke a 75-day lull in the North’s provocations, drew strong condemnation from South Korea as well as the international community.  (……)

“The ICBM Hwasong-15 type weaponry system is an intercontinental ballistic rocket tipped with super-large heavy warhead which is capable of striking the entire mainland of the U.S. ,” the statement said.

It added the new system has much greater advantages in its tactical and technological characteristics than the Hwasong-14 missile tested in July.

The repressive state launched Hwasong-14s twice, July 4 and 28. The first one flew 933 kilometers in 39 minutes and reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometers, while the second one flew 998 kilometers in 47 minutes after reaching an altitude of 3,724 kilometers.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but experts report this ICBM if fired at a nominal trajectory could range 13,000 kilometers.  That would put all areas of the continental United States within range.

Here is how the Blue House responded to the launch:

Soon after the test, President Moon Jae-in presided over a National Security Council meeting at Cheong Wa Dae, during which he strongly denounced the North for its “military brinkmanship.”

“North Korea must stop making reckless choices that will only lead to its isolation and collapse,” Moon said, urging the Kim regime to come to the negotiation table.

“The government will never sit back and watch these provocations,” he said.

The Chinese have issued their usual statement about how concerned they are after the launch:

China voiced its strong objection and concerns over North Korea’s latest missile test Wednesday, joining South Korea, the United States and Japan in denouncing the North’s first weapons test in nearly 11 weeks.

“China expresses its grave concerns about and opposition to North Korea’s missile launch activities,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a press briefing.

Referring to the U.N.’s ban on North Korea’s ballistic missile activity, the spokesman said, “There are clear regulations on North Korean ballistic missile launches in United Nations Security Council resolutions.”

He also said, “China wants North Korea to stop any action that escalates tension on the Korean Peninsula.” He called on “other concerned countries” to act cautiously and maintain peace and security in the regional community.  [Yonhap]

At this point I wonder if the ROK and the Chinese just change the date on their press releases after North Korean provocations because the statements are similar after every incident.

Japan Reporting that North Korea May Be Preparing for A Missile Launch

 

I guess we will see if North Korea has one more launch left in them this year:

Japan has detected the radio signals which indicate that North Korea may be preparing for a new missile launch, authorities announced on Tuesday.

The radio signals pointed to the North Korean Army’s possible launch of a ballistic missile “within the next few days”, reports Efe news.

However, the authorities said that at the moment no satellite has detected the deployment of any launching platform; hence these signals could be linked to the winter manoeuvers of the

Meanwhile, a South Korean government source told Yonhap news agency on Tuesday that all the military intelligence agencies of Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have detected in recent days the radio signals such as those that had been detected before a launch.  [Business Standard]

You can read the rest at the link.

American and Russian Analysts Expect North Korea to Test ICBM Soon

I found it interesting in the below article how the North Koreans have pretty much told the Russians they plan to conduct a ICBM test in the near term.  If so it will be additionally interesting to see what trajectory they use to test its full capability because if it lands too close to Hawaii or Alaska it could give the Trump administration the excuse it needs to conduct an attack to destroy their nuclear and missile programs:

The next rocket launch by North Korea could be another Hwasong-12 (HS-12), which is a mobile, solid-fueled, nuclear-capable medium-range ballistic missile, or the Hwasong-14 (HS-14), first tested in July, which is believed to be a two-staged version of the HS-12, giving it a longer and intercontinental range.

“I think they are not done with testing the HS-12 into the Pacific. They also have yet to start testing the HS-14 at anything like its full range,” said Joshua Pollack, a senior research associate with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

“Once they have done that a couple of times, I would be concerned about the potential for an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific,” Pollack, also editor of the Nonproliferation Review, told VOA.

Russian media on Friday quoted a lawmaker in Moscow as saying North Korea is preparing to test a long-range missile able to reach the West Coast of the United States.

The comment was made by Anton Morozov, a member of the Russian Duma’s international affairs committee, who was among lawmakers who returned home Friday after a four-day visit to Pyongyang for “high-level meetings.”

“They are preparing for new tests of a long-range missile. They even gave us mathematical calculations that they believe prove that their missile can hit the West Coast of the United States,” Russian media quoted Morozov, a member of a right-wing populist party, as saying.

“As far as we understand, they intend to launch one more long-range missile in the near future,” Morozov explained. “And in general, their mood is rather belligerent.”  [VOA News]

You can read more at the link.