North Korea test launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) early Tuesday morning according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the South’s Yonhap News Agency reported.
The missile, likely of the BM-25 (a.k.a. Musudan) IRBM was fired into the Sea of Japan (known in Korea as the East Sea) from a mobile transporter erector launcher (TEL) from near the city of Wonsan in North Korea’s Kangwon Province around 5:20 a.m.
South Korea’s military assessed the launch to be a failure.
The Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) and the South Korean military detected North Korea’s launch preparations on Monday. Japan placed its military on alert and said they were prepared to shoot down the missile if necessary.
South Korea’s JCS meanwhile said they are monitoring North Korean activity and remain ready to respond to an emergency situation.
The BM-25 is an IRBM produced by North Korea and believed to be based on the Russian-designed R-27 submarine-launched ballistic missile (also known by its NATO reporting name SS-N-6), to which it bears a resemblance.
The missile has an estimated range of 2,500-4,000 kilometers and an estimated payload capacity of 1,000-1,250 kilograms. The missile’s estimated range would put Guam, the Philippines, and most of China and Southeast Asia within range of a missile strike – nuclear or otherwise.
Though first shown publicly in a military parade in October 2010, the earliest test launch of the BM-25 did not occur until last month. North Korea test launched one such missile on its east coast on April 15 – the 104th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth – but was unsuccessful. North Korea test launched a second and third missile on April 28, but these launches were also assessed to be failures.
The BM-25 also bears a close resemblance to North Korea’s Pukkuksong-1 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). That missile too is likely based on the R-27.
The launch was conducted just days before talks scheduled for June 1 in Tokyo between representatives of South Korea, Japan, and the United States concerning North Korea and its nuclear program. It is possible the launch was conducted – in addition to being a developmental weapons test – as a response or protest to these talks.
North Korea is working to improve its ballistic missile arsenal and demonstrate a credible threat and deterrent capability. A successful test of the BM-25 would show North Korea is getting closer to the capability to conduct a nuclear strike as far away as Guam. Additionally, the road-mobile nature of the BM-25 would make it more difficult to track the location of the missiles and detect launch preparations.
Featured image: BM-25 (Musudan) missiles on parade in Pyongyang, October 10, 2015 | Photo: KCTV
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