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CBRN Assessment

Images reveal further details of North Korean missile launch

10 May 2019
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The KNCA released images of missile launches carried out on 9 May in North Korea’s northwestern North Pyongan Province. Pyongyang test-fired what appeared to be close/short-range ballistic missiles on 9 and 4 May that resemble those used by the Russian-designed Iskander systems. Source: KCNA

Images released by North Korea's state-run media show that the two missiles the country launched on 9 May were of the same type as the close/short-range ballistic missile it test-fired on 4 May.

The firings were part of a "strike drill of defence units of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in the forefront area and on the western front", Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on 10 May. It added that the exercise, which also included firings by self-propelled howitzers and multiple rocket launchers (MRLs), was supervised by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

A day earlier South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) had said that what it believed to be two "short-range missiles" were launched from the Kusong area, in North Korea's northwestern North Pyongan Province, in an easterly direction at 16:29 and 16:49 h local time. The missiles flew about 420 km and 270 km respectively before falling into the Sea of Japan (East Sea). The Yonhap News Agency later quoted the JCS as saying that the missiles had reached an altitude of about 50 km.

That said, the South Korean media outlet also quoted Pentagon spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel David Eastburn as describing the weapons as "ballistic missiles" that were flight-tested "to distances in excess of 300 km before impacting in the ocean".

The KCNA said that the drill, which involved "various long-range strike means", was designed to "inspect the rapid response of the defence units", and pointed out that the test-firings carried out on 4 May were also part of an exercise involving "the defence units of the eastern front". At the time Pyongyang tested what appeared to be a close/short-range ballistic missile that resembles those used by the Russian-designed Iskander systems, along with two different types of multiple rocket launcher (MRL).

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