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CBRN Assessment

North Korea releases images of IRBM launch

18 September 2017
North Korea launched a Hwaseong-12 IRBM (seen here) on 15 September that overflew northern Japan. Source: KCNA

North Korea has released images of its 15 September test launch of a Hwaseong-12 (also known as KN-17) intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that flew over northern Japan.

The missile was launched in a northeasterly direction from a site near the Sunan air base, in the vicinity of Pyongyang, at around 0657 h local time, and flew for about 19 minutes before falling into the ocean about 2,200 km east of Cape Erimo in Japan’s Hokkaido Prefecture, according to the Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Tokyo.

The MoD said the missile, which flew over Cape Erimo and the Oshima Peninsula, reached an altitude of about 800 km and travelled a linear distance of 3,700 km: far enough to potentially reach the US island territory of Guam in the western Pacific, which Pyongyang has described as “an advanced base of invasion”. It was the North’s second test-firing in two-and-a-half weeks of an IRBM that overflew Japan.

A day after the launch North Korean state-run media released images and video footage showing the missile being carried on a MAZ-547V-like transporter erector launcher (TEL) vehicle equipped with protective covers for the wheels. The missile was then shown being erected and later fired from the TEL, which was located at what appeared to be an airport runway.

The flight path followed by Pyongyang’s recently launched missile was similar to that flown by the Hwaseong-12 (also spelled Hwasong) IRBM the North test-fired on 29 August, although this time around the tested missile flew about 1,000 km further and more than 200 km higher.

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