CBRN Assessment

North Korea says IRBM test launch was ‘prelude to containing Guam’

30 August 2017
The KCNA said that the Hwasong-12 IRBM (seen here) launched by North Korea on 29 August was also designed to “counter” joint US-South Korean exercises, which Pyongyang regards as a rehearsal for an invasion of the North. Source: KCNA

North Korea has said that its 29 August test launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that flew over northern Japan was a “prelude to containing” the US island territory of Guam, adding that Pyongyang will test-fire more ballistic missiles into the Pacific Ocean in the future.

The IRBM was fired in a northeasterly direction from a site in Sunan, near Pyongyang, at around 05:58 h local time, and flew for about 14 minutes before falling into waters in the Pacific Ocean believed to be outside of Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), according to Japanese and South Korean authorities.

The Ministry of Defense in Tokyo said the missile reached an altitude of around 550 km and travelled a linear distance of some 2,700 km as it flew over Japan’s northern Hokkaido Prefecture.

Guam is more than 3,200 km from North Korea.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera was quoted by the Kyodo news agency as saying that the missile was not intercepted because there was no possibility it would hit Japan.

Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) identified the missile as a Hwasong-12, a type first displayed during the 15 April parade held in Pyongyang and designated the KN-17 by South Korea. The first publicly announced test-firing of the missile took place on 14 May, when it reached an altitude of around 2,111 km and flew a linear distance of some 787 km before falling into the Sea of Japan, according to the KCNA.

The KCNA said that the missile tested on 29 August “accurately hit the pre-set target waters in [the] northern Pacific”. It said the test was designed to “counter” the annual joint US-South Korean ‘Ulchi Freedom Guardian' exercises – which Pyongyang regards as a rehearsal for an invasion of the North – but emphasised that it had “no impact on the security of the neighbouring countries”.

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