March 20, 2023

Strategic considerations for N. Korea’s anti-ship missile

Missile intended as deterrent to elicit caution, not to win a war

Earlier this month, North Korea watchers and media noticed a very brief segment of a North Korean military documentary that shows the launch of what appears to be a Kh-35 Uran anti-ship missile.

The majority of coverage thus far has focused on proliferation (including where North Korea may have gotten the missile) and potential future development by the North, as well as technical details, political implications and even whether North Korea really has such missiles or if the footage is pure propaganda. These have all been useful analyses, but there is another aspect to consider as well: strategy. More precisely, what is Pyongyang’s reason for showing the missile footage at all, and what effects will the revelation have?