North Korean nuclear and missile tests in 2017
A look at some of the significant nuclear and missile tests by North Korea this year
North Korea on Wednesday ended its longest pause in missile tests this year with its most powerful version yet of an intercontinental ballistic missile meant to target the United States.
It was North Korea’s 20th launch of a ballistic missile this year and third successful test of an ICBM following two launches in July. The launch adds to fears that the North will soon have a military arsenal that can viably target the US mainland.
A look at some of the significant nuclear and missile tests by North Korea this year:
North Korea conducted its first known test of a new midrange ballistic missile it calls the Pukguksong (Polaris)-2, a land-based variant of an earlier developed submarine-launched missile. The missile uses solid fuel, which makes it easier to move and launch on short notice compared to weapons using liquid fuel.
North Korea premiered a newly developed intermediate-range missile, Hwasong-12, which it said was designed to carry a heavy nuclear warhead. The flight test was conducted at a highly lofted angle to reduce range and avoid other countries. The North said the missile travelled 787 kilometres and reached a maximum altitude of 2,111 kilometres.
North Korea conducted another test launch of the Pukguksong-2 and later declared the missile ready for mass production and operational deployment. The missile flew about 500 kilometres and reached a height of 560 kilometres before crashing into the sea.
North Korea conducted its first flight test of an ICBM, the Hwasong-14, launching it in a highly lofted trajectory. North Korea said the supposedly nuclear-capable missile reached a height of 2,802 kilometres and flew 933 kilometres for 39 minutes before falling into the sea. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed delight at the successful test, saying that the United States would be displeased by the North’s “package of gifts” delivered on the US Independence Day.
North Korea conducted its second test of the Hwasong-14 ICBM, which it said reached a maximum height of 3,725 kilometres and travelled 998 kilometres before accurately landing in waters off Japan. The North said the test was aimed at confirming the maximum range and other technical aspects of a missile capable of delivering a “large-sized, heavy nuclear warhead.” Kim said the nighttime launch displayed the country’s ability to fire at “random regions and locations at random times” with the “entire” US mainland now within range.
North Korea fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate range missile from its capital, Pyongyang. It flew over Japan before plunging into the northern Pacific Ocean, a change from North Korea’s pattern of firing missiles at highly lofted angles. South Korea’s military said the missile travelled around 2,700 kilometres and reached a maximum height of 550 kilometres. The launch came weeks after North Korea threatened to launch a salvo of Hwasong-12s that would surround Guam with “enveloping” missile fire. Kim called the launch a “meaningful prelude” to containing Guam and called for his military to conduct more tests targeting the Pacific Ocean.
North Korea carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date, claiming it was a hydrogen bomb designed for use on ICBMs. It says the test was a “perfect success” and a further step in the development of weapons capable of striking anywhere in the United States.
North Korea fired another Hwasong-12 missile over Japan into the Pacific. The missile flew about 3,700 kilometres, marking it the country’s longest missile flight. Kim said his country is nearing its goal of “equilibrium” in military force with the United States.
South Korea’s military said the latest missile fired from an area near Pyongyang travelled 960 kilometres and reached a height of 4,500 kilometres. This showed a potential operational range of 13,000 kilometres, which would put Washington DC, and all other parts of the continental United States comfortably within reach, according to US analyst David Wright. North Korea later released similar flight data for what it described as a newer and more powerful ICBM called Hwasong-15. The North said the missile could be armed with a “super-large heavy” nuclear warhead.