On 15 April 2015 North Korea held its big military parade to mark the 105 anniversary of the birth of regime founde Kim Il Sung. The regime showed off several new missile designs. Halfway through the two-and-a-half hour military parade that took place in Pyongyang on Saturday, North Korea showed off its next-generation military hardware. One commentator said “This is the first time North Korea has ever displayed such a range of their missile arsenal. We can see from today that North Korea’s missile technology has advanced far more than we had previously thought.”

This is North Korea, so the fact that a “missile” is on display does not necessarily mean they are operational, or even that that they are in development. One observer suggested “I’m also sure that the missiles are not ready yet, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that North Korea is now developing ICBM’s. It might take a little more time than they want to, but there is no show of just models to deceiveanyone.” But this is silly. During the 1960s, the Soviets were quite fond a dragging their rockets [aka “Rattling Their Rockets”] through Red Square. It turned out that possibly half of the displayed rockets were not what the West believed them to be. Frequently, the Soviets displayed prototypes that had lost competitions, while hiding the winning design that had entered production.

The North Koran’s have paraded far many more missile designs than can practically be produced in meaningful numbers. At least three variants of the Hwasong-13 have been glimpsed, but there is no reason to believe that more than one would enter production.

The parade was in celebration of the 105th birthday of the regime’s founder and former leader Kim Il-sung. There had been concern North Korea might decide to mark the occasion with a nuclear or missile test,… but it never materialized. Now attention turns to the next important date in North Korea’s calendar in ten days time: the 85th anniversary of the founding of the military. There’s speculation Kim Jong-un might instead take that occasion to carry out a provocation.

Also on display was a new generation of an intermediate-range missile, called the Pukguksong-2, as well as a new version of a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

As North Korea marked the 105th birth anniversary of its founding leader Kim Il-sung with a military parade in Pyongyang, the North for the first time publicly showcased its submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), as well as what appeared to be a new type of ICBM. “It’s presumed to be a new ICBM. It seems longer than the existing KN-08 or KN-14 ICBMs,” a South Korean military official told Yonhap, after the intercontinental ballistic missiles along with the Pukkuksong-2 SLBMs were paraded in front of the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un. Many of these “missile” were most likely simulators used for training purposes, and some may be fakes.

The North Korean People’s Army publicly displayed for the first time its new long-range road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles during the military parade in Pyongyang on 15 April. The missile of the new road-mobile intercontinental systems is carried in a large canister that completely enclosed the missile mounted on an eight wheels trailer. There is no precise information about this missile system. “It’s presumed this is a mock-up new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The new ICBM looks like a Chinese DF-31.“, said South Korean military officials.

North Korea has tried, but failed, to conduct a new missile launch, according to South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff and US Pacific Command. The alleged botched launch comes amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula and a day after Pyongyang showcased its new sea based and intercontinental missiles. “The communist state attempted to launch an unidentified missile from the port city of Sinpo on its east coast in the morning and the launch is presumed to have failed,” the South Korean military said, according to Yonhap news.

The attempted missile launch was also detected by the US military, which said it “blew up almost immediately” after the launch at 9:21pm GMT. “US Pacific Command detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at 11:21 a.m. Hawaii time April 15. The launch of the ballistic missile occurred near Sinpo,” US Pacific Command spokesman Commander David Benham said. “The missile blew up almost immediately. The type of missile is still being assessed.” Two US officials told Reuters there’s a “high degree of confidence” the projectile was a land-based but not an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Hwasong-13C – ICBM

There was a big surprise: what appeared to be a new ICBM. Experts said it could indicate that Pyongyang’s missile development program is further ahead than previously thought. Pyongyang unveiled what appeared to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, that South Korean military officials say they had never seen before. One commentator said “This was basically throwing the gauntlet down to the west…They’re saying we’ve got this new missile and it’s much bigger and it’s likely got much more capability that we thought the KN-8 and 14 had.” The range of new hardware on display came as a bit of a surprise, and it’s been interpreted as a show of force to the U.S. President Donald Trump, who has taken an aggressive tone against Pyongyang.

North Korea leader Kim Jong-un said his regime is in the “last stage” of preparations to test fire an inter-continental ballistic missile. This during his New Year’s speech 01 January 2017. Kim Jong-un’s address this year was evaluated to be rather bold compared to last year. He vowed to bolster the regime’s weaponsprogram, making it clear that Pyongyang is in the final stages of test launching an ICBM.

This even larger and longer variant features a canister encased missile mounted on the transporter. Although the transporter vehicle is generally the same as the other Hwasong-13 variants, it lacks any evident means of erecting the missile for launch. However, the missile canister is raised higher on the back of the transporter, suggesting that a hydraulic erector is submerged under the cannister, a design used with the Soviet SS-25 ICBM, the similarity extending even to the box on the canister above the vehicle cab.

There is no particular reason to believe the launch canister seen on parade had an actual missile inside. The wheels on the paraded vehicles were nice and round, displaying none of the compression deformation that would be expected if they were carrying a heavy load.

The missile associated with this TEL, should it exist, appears to be a three stage variant of the Pukguksong-2 SLBM/IRBM, consistent with the Iranian Seljil and Ashura variants of the Ghader-110.


Hwasong-? – Transporter

This vehicle has not been previously seen, and was only poorly seen on the Day of the Sun in 2017. The tractor-trailer rig is new for the DPRK, but is generally similar to such rigs seen in Iran [Shahab-3, Shahab-3B], and Pakistan [Ghauri], with three wheels on the tractor, and two, three and four wheels on the trailer. The TEL arrangement of four wheels on the rear carriage resembles the Chinese DF-31A ICBM transporter, but the “missile” itself is of much smaller diameter, and the three wheel arrangement of the tractor in front [versus 4 wheels on the DF-31A], both support an interpretation of a missile smaller than the DF-31. The launch canister is generally consistent is size with the KN-14.

The simplest interpretation of this vehicles, assuming that it represents an operational capability rather than a fake parade missile, is that it is a transporter for the KN-14 LRICBM for emplacement of that missile into a launch silo.

KN-08 Hwasong-13B

Rather longer than the previously displayed Hwasong-13, the actual missile is mounted on the TEL, with a pointed conical nose cone, versus the rounded nose of the more refined successor.


The No-Dong-B 6-wheel TEL with the No-Dong-A missile, which is much longer than the No-Dong-B missile. Strangely, the wheels of the TEL are protected by armored shield of some sort, which might protect the wheels from being shot at if the TEL was engaged in close combat in urban operations of some sort, but absent this improbably circumstance, seem to be non-funcationl decoration.


Missiles – Overview

The regime launched more than 20 ballistic missiles this year, but never an ICBM test, definitely a threatening factor for the international community. What’s interesting to note is that nukes or missiles are some of key words that haven’t been mentioned by Kim Jong-un in his New Year speeches since he started delivering them in 2012.

North Korea conducted at least 25 launches in the first 11 months of 2016, using ballistic missile technology, including launches of satellite, submarine-based ballistic missiles, and medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

The Taep’o dong-1 missile was test-fired in August 1998. In 1999 North Korea agreed to suspend tests of long-range missiles, and Pyongyang has extended that moratorium through 2003. In late 2000 the Clinton proposed an agreement under which North Korea would halt the production and testing of medium- and long-range missiles, as well as the export of missile technology. The US also accepted a North Korean proposal to provide two or three launches for North Korean satellites annually. By mid-2001 the new Bush Administration had returned to this general framework, though proposing new challenge inspections for number of sites in North Korea at short notice.

KN-01 SS-N-1- Styx
KN-02 SS-21 Scarab
KN-03 ?? ?? Hwasong-5 / Scud-B
KN-04 ?? ?? Hwasong-6 / Scud-C
KN-05 ?? ??
KN-06 SAM [S-300 / FT-2000]
KN-07 ?? ??
KN-08 Hwasong-13
KN-09 300-mm Artillery Rocket
KN-10 ??
KN-12 ??
KN-13 ??
KN-14 Hwasong-13
KN-15 Pukguksong
The “KN” [Korea, North] missile designation system
is of South Korean origin. It is apparently applied to
missiles of North Korean origin. Some of these
missiles are well attested under this designation
system, though there are many missing pieces, and
no small confusion.

North Korean missiles have too many designations chasing not enough hardware. Initially, the DPRK’s missiles were knock-offs of Soviet missiles, so the Soviet designators or derivatives thereof sufficed. By the mid-1990s the North had moved to localized variants of Soviet-derivative designs, and the US Defense Intelligence Agency adopted a naming system that was based on the place name that was nearest to the location where the missile was first observered, e.g. the Taep’o-dong missiles were first seen near the small coastal village of Taep’o-dong.

The older NK- and or NKSL- system is a public derived similar system from the “Cold War” North Korean Satellite Launch System with numeric designations similar to that utilized to define Soviet era satellite launch systems such as the SL-4 Soyuz booster by the US intelligence community.]

The Unha or Eunha (Korean: “Galaxy”) is a North Korean space launch vehicle. The December 21, 2012 edition of the Rodong Sinmun cited KCST officials as saying that the Unha-9 will carry a lunar spacecraft, and that Unha-4 through Unha-8 will carry communications and earth observation satellites. The incremental increase in the Unha designations may just be a tactic by North Korea to mislead space experts into thinking that Unha-3 and Unha-2 are two different rockets, given that Unha-2 and Unha-3 are almost the same height and Unha-9 is taller than the former two.

Most North Korean missiles have been given an alphanumeric designator in the Hwasong sequence, the word Hwasong being a Korean word meaning Powerful, Innovative, or Sacrifice. The North’s SLBMs have been designated “Pukguksong”, the Korean word for Polaris, the polar star. The North Koreans may be a tad crazy, but they also have a sense of humor. The first American SLBM was also called Polaris. This is all pretty confusing. The South Korean intelligence community has evidently sought to bring some sense to the matter with the “KN” [Korea, North] missile designation system. The bad news is that this system is all the way up to KN-15, but no more than half of these missiles have been associated with the other designation systems, so this has added to the confusion, rather than resolving them.

For many years, there has been a lack of understanding of the origins of North Korean strategic ballistic missile program. Equally absent from public the discussion about Missile Technology Control Regime is the assistance that Iran has provided to the North Koran strategic ballistic missile program and North Korea’s contribution to Iran’s strategic ballistic missile program.

Understanding the historical context of the relationship between Iran and North Korea will enhance the understanding of this potential strategic threat to the world. Understanding the impact of the Gorbachev era Soviet missile technology transfer to North Korea because of strategic arms reductions and its meaning to the Missile Technology Control regime (MTCR) and its impact globally can not be understated. This understanding is essential because of its implications in strategic arms control. In order to understand the true strategic threat requires a reasonable technical understanding of strategic systems and their historical and technical heritage. What follows is a discussion of what can be gleamed from the public intelligence on these various strategic issues.

In October 2003 a report released by the South Korean defense ministry estimated that North Korea had shipped over 400 SCUD-class ballistic missiles to the Middle East since the 1980s. The biggest buyers were Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and Syria, but also include Egypt and Libya.

North Korea is generally estimated to have about 500 Scuds in inventory The Korea Herald 08 May 2004]. But South Korea’s defense ministry estimates that North Korea has about 600 Scuds and about 100 No dong-A missiles, Agency France-Presse reported on 07 May 2004. The [DPRK] North Korea was in 2008 credited by South Korea to have 800 deployed missiles but in March 2010 they were credited with 1,000 missiles deployed. That is 100-150 Scud-B’s 300 Scud-C’s, 350 Scud-ER’s and 200 No-dong-A’s equaling 1,000 deployed and perhaps 20 No-dong-B’s in a single division identified. North Korea is also credited with having enough weapons grade plutonium to have created 6-8 nuclear device weapons that they will eventually be able to place inside a already perfected missile born re-entry vehicle to make a nuclear warhead according to South Korean government analysis.

North Korean/ Iranian Unha-2, Taep’o-dong-2B Evolutionary Development Family.

North Korean/ Iranian Launch vehicle Evolutionary Development Family through 2013