North Korea tests ballistic missile, MRLs

07 May 2019

North Korea tested what appears to be a ballistic missile system that resembles the Russian-designed 9K720 Iskander-M on 4 May. Pyongyang described it as a “tactical guided weapon”. Source: KCNA

North Korea has tested what appears to be a close/short-range ballistic missile system that resembles the Russian-designed 9K720 Iskander-M, along with two different types of multiple rocket launcher (MRL).

The weapons were fired on 4 May between 0906 h and 0927 h local time in a northeasterly direction from an area near North Korea's eastern port city of Wonsan, in Kangwon Province, and fell into the East Sea (Sea of Japan), according to a statement issued by South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff that same day.

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Seoul was quoted by the Yonhap News Agency as saying the following day that the projectiles flew between 70 km and 240 km, and involved "a new tactical guided weapon, as well as 240 mm and 300 mm multiple rocket launchers".

The MND, which said it was jointly analysing the latest launches together with the US, had initially described one the weapons as a "missile" but subsequently revised it to "tactical guided weapon", without elaborating.

If confirmation emerges that Pyongyang tested a ballistic missile, the latest move would mark the first time North Korea has launched such a weapon since November 2017 when it test-fired a Hwaseong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which North Korea claims is capable of striking anywhere in the US.

Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released images of the latest test-firings on 5 May, stating that "the purpose of the drill was to estimate and inspect the operating ability and the accuracy of striking duty performance of large-calibre, long-range multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons by defence units in the front-line area and on the eastern front".

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who supervised the test-firings, was quoted by the KCNA as stressing "the need for all service members to keep a high-alert posture … bearing in mind the iron truth that genuine peace and security are ensured and guaranteed only by powerful strength".

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