The Facts

  • On Tuesday, 4 July, North Korea successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
    • According to the state-run Pyongyang Times, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un gave a written order on Monday to test a Hwasong-14 missile, the country’s latest ICBM model.
    • The Academy of Defense Scientists in the DPRK released a report in connection with the successful launch of the Hwasong-14 missile.

“The rocket blasted off from the northwestern part of the DPRK at 9:00, July 4, Juche 106 (2017) to make 39 minute flight along its pre-set trajectory before accurately hitting the target waters in the open sea in the East Sea of Korea. The test-launch was carried out at the maximum angle launch system and had no adverse effect on the security of neighboring countries. The rocket flew 933km, reaching an altitude of 2, 802km. Kim Jong Un, Supreme Leader of our party, state and the army, personally observed the process of the test-launch in field and solemnly declared before the world its shining success.”

  • On Wednesday, North Korean state TV released raw footage of the ICBM test launch:

The Context

  • Since 2006, North Korea has conducted five successful missile launch tests relating to the development of its nuclear program.
    • The first test was conducted on 9 October 2006.
      • The launch carried an estimated yield of less than one kiloton (a unit equalling 1,000 tons) of TNT.
    • The last successful nuclear test was conducted on 9 September 2016, carrying an estimated yield of 18 kilotons of TNT.
      • Little Boy — the atomic bomb dropped on the city of Hiroshima, Japan in 1945 — yielded approximately 15 kilotons of TNT.
  • North Korea has been working to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles since the early 1980s.
    • In the early ’80s, North Korea received Soviet-made Scud-B missiles.
      • Scud-B missiles, also called R-17 missiles by the former Soviet Union, are a class of short range, nuclear-capable ballistic missiles with an approximate range of 300 km.
      • By 1984, North Korea had reverse engineered its Scud-B missiles into their Hwasong-5 missiles.
      • North Korea continued to advance its missile technology with the Nodong missile, an intermediate range missile with an estimated range of 1,350-1,600 km, and other Scud-style missiles, which the country primarily sold for profit.
      • North Korea and Egypt traded missile schematics and raw materials for the production of missiles until 2000.
    • Taepodong-1 and Taepodong-2 missiles, first developed by North Korea in the late 1990s, had ranges up to 15,000 km, though they were never successfully tested.
  • In 2012, during North Korea’s annual “Day of the Sun” military parade, the country debuted a KN-08 (Hwasong-13) missile prototype. Experts at the Wisconsin Project estimated the missile’s theoretical range to be 11,500 km.
    • In 2015, North Korea displayed four modified KN-08 missiles with advancements in the engine design and an estimated range of 10,000 km.
  • At the “Day of the Sun” parade in April 2017, North Korea displayed two new designs for ICBMs. One that appeared to be a more advanced version of the KN-08, and another that showed solid-fuel and cold launch technology. The new technologies shorten the amount of time needed to prepare a missile for launch.
  • As a result of North Korea’s Nuclear program, the United Nations imposed six sanctions on North Korea.
    • Resolution 1718, passed in 2006 after North Korea’s first nuclear test, demanded that North Korea dismantle its nuclear program and its ballistic missile development “in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner.”
      • The resolution also banned the trade of military technology and luxury goods and called for UN member states to freeze the assets of those involved with North Korea’s weapons program.
    • Resolutions 1874 and 2087 strengthened the trade embargo, and encouraged member states to seize and destroy any cargo believed to be aiding North Korea’s weapons program.
    • Resolution 2094, passed after North Korea’s 2013 nuclear test and intended to strain the financial stability of the country’s program, imposed sanctions on money transfers.
    • Resolution 2270 and Resolution 2321, passed in 2016, prohibit exports of coal, iron, gold, vanadium, titanium, and other materials important to missile technology like copper, nickel, zinc, and silver.

Supporters

  • The BBC interviewed several North Korean citizens about their thoughts on their country’s nuclear weapons program.
    • One citizen said:

“We should have the nuclear weapons. If we do not have the nuclear weapons, the nuclear weapon of another country will fall on our soil.”

  • According to state-run news agency KCNA, Kim Jong-un, “with a broad smile on his face, told officials, scientists and technicians that the US would be displeased to witness the DPRK’s strategic option.”
    • Kim reportedly called the successful test a “package of gifts” for the United States on its “Independence Day.”

Critics

  • On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a statement in which he “strongly condemn[ed]” the ICBM test, stating:

“Testing an ICBM represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region, and the world.”

    • He continued, calling for “global action.”

“Global action is required to stop a global threat. Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime. All nations should publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to their pursuit of nuclear weapons…

The United States seeks only the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the end of threatening actions by North Korea. As we, along with others, have made clear, we will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.”

  • Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, commented on the missile launch while condemning the regime of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Haley stated:

“North Korea’s launch of a ICBM is a clear and sharp military escalation.”

  • President Donald Trump tweeted:


Seamus Anderson contributed to this report. 

The Whim News Team
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The Whim News Desk

We'd rather be second and accurate than be first and wrong. The Whim News Desk is a dedicated team of researchers and investigators committed to presenting the news without bias. Follow us @TheWhimOnline for daily news coverage without the spin!

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