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Chronology of Events
NK Nuclear Facilities
Missile Capabilities
NK Missile
Concerns Over the
NK’s Development
of Missiles
Rocket Launch
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North Korea reportedly embarked on its missile development around 1969 when the former Soviet Union provided North Korea with surface-to-surface FROG (Free Rocket Over Ground) missiles with a range of 60 kilometers.

But North Korea is believed to have started missile development in earnest around 1976. It is said that North Korea supported Egypt during the 1973 Yom Kippur War and, in return, obtained the main body of the Scud-B missile and launch pad from the Soviet Union. North Korea is believed to have reverse-engineered them for the independent development of missiles. North Korea’s missile system is therefore based on the Scud missile. The country has continued increasing the missile range to develop the Scud-C missile, mid-range ballistic missile 'Rodong' and the multi-stage, mid-range ballistic missile ‘Taepodong’ one after another.

In the process, it is assumed that North Korea possessed a ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland in the 2000s.

North Korea launched the long-range rocket “Unha-2” on April 5, 2009, to demonstrate in part its intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities. The technology needed to put the satellite “Kwangmyongsong-2” into space aboard this rocket can also be applied to the development of a ballistic missile. It was observed that the rocket flew 3,100 kilometers. (Some estimated that it flew 3,900 kilometers.)

In April 2012, North Korea again launched a long-range rocket, the “Unha-3.” The launch, which the country claims was to put the satellite “Kwangmyongsong-3” into orbit, ended in failure. Pyongyang attempted to launch the rocket once again in December the same year, and that was a success. Judging from this, North Korea is believed to have finished developing intercontinental ballistic missile technology for the moment.
North Korea Missile Development Chronology(Most dates are estimates)
  Adopts USSR’s surface-to-surface FROG missile (range: 60km)
  Adopts USSR’s Scud-B missile and launch pad from Egypt
Starts independent development of missiles
  Production of own Scud-B, placed in active service
  Develops 300km-range Scud-B, starts development of improved (longer-range) Scud-C and ‘Rodong’ missiles(est.)
  Develops 500km-range Scud-C
  U.S. reconnaissance satellite spots prototype of ‘Rodong 1’ mounted on launch pad
Starts development of IRBM ‘Taepodong’ missile
  Test-launches ‘Rodong 1 (May. Landed in the East Sea after flying 500km)
  Production of ‘Rodong 1’, (placed in active service)
U.S. reconnaissance satellite spots ‘Taepodong’
  Test-launches ‘Taepodong 1’(31st of August. North Korea claims it actually launched the satellite, ‘Gwangmyung-sung 1’)
  Announces suspension of test-launches (until 2003)
  Promises continued suspension of test-launches until after 2003 (North Korea-Japan Summit Talks)
  Developing ‘Taepodong 2’(est.)
  North Korea test fires the Taepodong-2 on July 5. (But it flew only 42 seconds before blasting off, with the rocket’s first stage failing to separate.)
  North Korea begins deploying intermediate-range ballistic missiles with a range of more than 3,000 kilometers without test firing. (Some experts speculate North Korea test-launched the missile in Iran.)
  North Korea launched a long-range rocket on April 5. (The North claims the rocket was the Eunha-2 space launch vehicle carrying the country’s communication satellite Gwangmyeongseong-2. The rocket traveled 3,100 kilometers for 15 minutes. The rocket’s third stage apparently failed to separate, but some analyze the separation was successful. Pyongyang did not manage to put a satellite into orbit.)
North Korea launches the “Unha-3” rocket. A satellite aboard the rocket fails to enter orbit. (In an unusual move, North Korea disclosed the rocket to foreign reporters before the launch. This was interpreted as an attempt to defuse criticism by the international community for test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile.)
North Korea successfully launches the “Unha-3” rocket at 9:51 a.m. from the Dongchang-ri launch site in Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province.
Current Status of North Korea Missiles
Warhead Wt.(kg)
SCUD B(R-17E) 220-300 800  
SCUD C 500 600 in active service
Rodong 1 (SCUD D) 1,000-1,300 500 in active service
Taepodong 1(Rodong 2,SCUD E) 2,500
500(est.) test-launched
(August, 1998/1,600km in flight)
(July, 2006/ failure)
Taepodong 2 (Rodong 3) 6,700 1,000(est.) test launch (Eunha-2?)
(April, 2009/ 3,100 km in flight)