North Korea Missile Test May Have Failed

Missile fired by Kim Jong Un

Photocomposition by Thursday Review

North Korea Missile Test May Have Failed

| published November 28, 2015 |

By Thursday Review staff


Military and intelligence analysts say that North Korea attempted a test of a medium-range submarine-launched missile early on Saturday, but the test may have fallen far short of anything easily deemed a success.

Reports coming from U.S. military sources, western intelligence analysts, and South Korean news sources suggest that the missile being tested did not launch from the submarine’s tube, and that the launch was a misfire. Observers report seeing pieces of debris were seen flying from the area near the tube’s upper opening, indicating possibly that only the tube’s safety cover or pieces of the rocket ejected. No missile was seen by observers, and none was tracked on radar or satellite by the U.S. or its allies in the area. No explosions accompanied the missile’s apparent misfire, so analysts suggest that the rocket remained intact.

This is the second time in six months that North Korea has attempted to fire a submarine-launched missile. In May, a similar test was conducted at sea. Pyongyang reported that the May test was a success, and released photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un observing the launch from the bow of a boat about one quarter mile from the launch site, but that test has yet to be independently verified. But some have said the image of Kim Jong-un standing nearby—pointing at the rocket as it emerges from the submarine—is a Photoshop enhanced bit of fakery; other military analysts in the U.S. and Britain have suggested that even the image of the missile rising from the sub may be a forgery. Others have suggested that although the May missile test was a marginal success, the rocket observed only climbed to an altitude of about 700 feet before falling back to the water.

Still, the test in May of this year was taken seriously by dozens of countries, and was deemed an important—if tentative—step for the largely-isolated country. North Korea makes no secret of its desire to have a first-strike capability in its military footprint, and a sub-launched missile system would give it the ability to strike targets in South Korea or in Japan with little or no warning. Western military analysts say, however, that a strike by North Korea against land-based targets is not as likely as an attack on a warship of the United States or one of its allies in the region.

North Korea has routinely ignored sanctions placed against it for its development of weapons, including its nuclear program. Earlier this year North Korean officials claimed the country had restarted its once-shuttered uranium enrichment plants, and brought back online its reactors. Pyongyang’s news agency said that the rogue nation was preparing for all out nuclear war with the United States and its allies.

If the test on Saturday was in fact a failure, as observers and analysts suggest, it certainly means that North Korea is still some several years away from actually deploying a working missile which can be fired from a submarine. Weapons and intelligence analysts suggest that North Korea still lacks the technology for such an advanced weapons system.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Top North Korean Defense Minister Executed; Thursday Review staff; Thursday Review; May 13, 2015.

North Korea: The Emperor’s New Clothes; Kevin Robbie; Thursday Review; March 20, 2015.