US Korea Institute

Sunday December 4th 2016
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WMD

The realities of North Korea’s WMD ambitions are complex but so are the technological developments that make its programs possible. We will help our readers understand both.

Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site: No Indications that a Test is Imminent

Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site: No Indications that a Test is Imminent

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr. and Jack Liu. Summary Recent commercial satellite imagery from October 29 and November 9 shows continued low-level activity at the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility. This activity suggests that maintenance and minor excavation operations are taking place at the North and West [...]

Flashback to the Past: North Korea’s “New” Extended-Range Scud

Flashback to the Past: North Korea’s “New” Extended-Range Scud

Summary At 12:14 p.m. on September 5, 2016, North Korea launched three missiles within one minute of each other from a highway south of Pyongyang. All three launches were successful; the missiles reportedly each covered a distance of 1,000 km and landed about 240 km west of Okushirito Island, part of the Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido. The [...]

North Korean and Chinese Nuclear Weapons Development: Two Peas in a Pod?

North Korean and Chinese Nuclear Weapons Development: Two Peas in a Pod?

North Korea’s rapid nuclear and missile development has intensified the debate over the efficacy of US and South Korean policies toward Pyongyang. Comparing North Korea’s weapons development to China’s own arms activities can contextualize these discussions, in part by highlighting the remarkable speed with which North Korea has accomplished [...]

Musudan Could Be Operational Sooner Than Expected

Musudan Could Be Operational Sooner Than Expected

North Korea seems to have tested its Musudan missile seven times this year, with only a single clear success to show for it. But the North Koreans aren’t simply repeating old failures.  And they aren’t taking the slow path to developing a reliable system, with a year or so between each test to analyze the data and make improvements. That has [...]

North Korea-Iran Missile Cooperation

North Korea-Iran Missile Cooperation

North Korea’s ground test of a powerful, liquid-fueled engine on September 20, and the launch of three modified-Scud missiles earlier this month renewed allegations that Pyongyang and Tehran are collaborating on ballistic-missile development. The accusations are mostly speculative, based largely on the apparent similarities of ballistic missiles [...]

North Korea’s Largest Engine Test Yet

North Korea’s Largest Engine Test Yet

Summary On September 20, KCNA reported that Kim Jong Un had overseen the testing of a large new rocket engine at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station. They claimed this new engine had a thrust of 80 tons and would be use for a new space launch vehicle. Rocket engine thrust isn’t normally measured in “tons,” and there is some ambiguity [...]

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Credit for photo of young North Korean girl: T.M. All rights reserved, used with permission.