North Korea missiles testing to get ready for ‘strike on US bases’ — Intended to “test the Trump administration’s North Korea policy” — What is the involvement of Iran, China?

By Hwang Sunghee
AFP March 6, 2017
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Three of the four missiles launched Monday came down provocatively close to Japan, in waters that are part of its exclusive economic zone (AFP Photo/Ed Jones)
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Seoul (AFP) – Nuclear-armed North Korea said Tuesday its missile launches were training for a strike on US bases in Japan, as global condemnation of the regime swelled.

Three of the four missiles fired Monday came down provocatively close to US ally Japan, in waters that are part of its exclusive economic zone, representing a challenge to US President Donald Trump.

In separate phone calls, Trump — whose rhetoric on the campaign trail had raised doubts about the issue — reaffirmed Washington’s “ironclad commitment” to Japan and South Korea.

The US will demonstrate to Pyongyang that there were “very dire consequences” for its actions, the White House said in a statement.

The UN Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday after a request by Washington and Tokyo to discuss additional measures following the launch.

Under UN resolutions, Pyongyang is barred from any use of ballistic missile technology, and the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said on Twitter that the world “won’t allow” North Korea to continue on its “destructive path”.

But six sets of UN sanctions since its first nuclear test in 2006 have failed to halt its drive for what it insists are defensive weapons.

– ‘Feasting his eyes’ –

Kim Jong-Un gave the order for the drill to start, the North’s official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

“Feasting his eyes on the trails of ballistic rockets”, he praised the Hwasong artillery unit that carried it out, it said.

“The four ballistic rockets launched simultaneously are so accurate that they look like acrobatic flying corps in formation, he said,” the agency added, referring to Kim.

The military units involved are “tasked to strike the bases of the US imperialist aggressor forces in Japan in contingency”, KCNA said.

The Korean version of the KCNA report said the North’s missile launch demonstrated its readiness to “wipe out” enemy forces with a “merciless nuclear strike”.

A series of photographs published by the North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed Kim watching the missiles rise into the air and another of him smiling gleefully, clapping with other officials.

Seoul and Washington last week began annual joint military exercises that always infuriate Pyongyang.

It regularly issues threats against its enemies, and carried out two atomic tests and a series of missile launches last year, but Monday was only the second time its devices have come down in Japan’s EEZ.

The launches came ahead of a trip by new US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to the region.

Choi Kang, an analyst at the Seoul-based Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said the launch was a warning to Tokyo.

“North Korea is demonstrating that its target is not just limited to the Korean peninsula anymore but can extend to Japan at anytime and even the US,” he said.

Trump has described North Korea as a “big, big problem” and vowed to deal with the issue “very strongly”.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday the administration was taking steps to “enhance our ability to defend against North Korea’s ballistic missiles”.

The New York Times reported at the weekend that under former president Barack Obama the US stepped up cyber attacks against North Korea to try to sabotage its missiles before launch or just as they lift off.

– Beijing frustrated –

The US military has begun deploying the THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system to South Korea, US Pacific Command said, with its first elements arriving on Monday, to protect against threats from the North.

Pyongyang wants to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the US mainland — something Trump has vowed would not happen.

It has undoubtedly made progress in its efforts in recent years, although questions remain over its ability to master re-entry technology and miniaturise a nuclear weapon sufficiently to fit it onto a missile warhead.

The THAAD deployment has infuriated China, the North’s key diplomatic ally and crucial to efforts to persuade it to change its ways.

Beijing has become increasingly frustrated with Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile activities, and last month announced a suspension of all coal imports from the North until the end of the year — a crucial source of foreign currency.

The North’s missile launch was intended to “test the Trump administration’s North Korea policy and the South Korea-US alliance”, South Korea’s acting president Hwang Kyo-Ahn said Tuesday.

It could have been an attempt to distract attention from the murder of Kim Jong-Nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport last month, he added.

Seoul has blamed Pyongyang for the killing of the half-brother of the North’s leader by two women using VX nerve agent.

With diplomatic tensions soaring Pyongyang on Tuesday announced it was banning Malaysians in North Korea from leaving the country.

Kuala Lumpur expelled the North’s ambassador on Monday, with Pyongyang responding by formally declaring the Malaysian envoy persona non grata.

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North Korea Possibly Supplying Missile Technology to Iran

– The Washington Times – Saturday, February 4, 2017

Speculation is mounting that North Korea is supplying missile technology to the real Islamic State, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Recent missile tests coming out of Tehran have caused the Trump administration to once again apply targeted sanctions against the regime.  For its part, Iran has declared that it will continue the missile tests and that they do not violate the agreement reached with the Obama administration.

The North Korean analysis site, 38North.org, reported on the recent Iranian test, saying, “[Some analysts have ] speculated that it relies on a liquid-fueled engine originally developed by the Isayev Design Bureau for the Soviet R-27 submarine-launched ballistic missile … The ramifications of such a connection would be significant, not only because it would signify ongoing close Iranian-North Korean missile cooperation, but also because such an engine would be a foundation for Iran to develop a viable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).”

The website went on to say very forcefully that the reports of such collaboration are unconfirmed.

Fox News came out with a report in July of last year saying Iran did indeed test a BM-25 missile, built with an R-27 engine designed by Kim Jong-un’s scientists.

We have historical evidence of North Korea proliferating weapons technology to other rogue states which are enemies of the United States.  The question I have is, did the Obama administration have evidence of technology transfers from Pyongyang to Tehran?  And did they proceed with the Iranian “deal” anyway?

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/4/north-korea-possibly-supplying-missile-technology-/

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Iran’s Missile Test: Getting the Facts Straight on North Korea’s Cooperation

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By Michael Elleman

38North.org
03 February 2017

On January 29, Iran tested a new ballistic missile it dubbed the Khorramshahr, which reportedly flew a distance of about 1,000 kilometers. Little is known about the missile, though some have speculated that it relies on a liquid-fueled engine originally developed by the Isayev Design Bureau for the Soviet R-27 submarine-launched ballistic missile. If so, this could make it a variant of the North Korean Musudan (KN-10), an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that uses the same engine and that Pyongyang began flight testing in 2016. The ramifications of such a connection would be significant, not only because it would signify ongoing close Iranian-North Korean missile cooperation, but also because such an engine would be a foundation for Iran to develop a viable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). However, contrary to some assertions, the available evidence cannot verify speculation that the Iranian missile is similar to North Korea’s Musudan, or reports that Pyongyang exported R-27 engines to Iran.[1]

What Is Known About Iran’s Missile Test

Media reports citing US government officials claim the missile traveled about 1,000 kilometers, but its re-entry vehicle exploded before the flight was complete. It is unclear whether the explosion was the result of an accidental or a deliberate detonation. Officials did not provide details about the type of missile tested, though an anonymous Pentagon official informed Reuters that it was the same kind of missile tested in July 2016, and that the launch occurred near Semnan, a known missile-test site west of Tehran.

However, it remains uncertain whether the missile utilized North Korean technology or was based on the Musudan IRBM. Fox News asserted that Iran tested a BM-25 missile, built with R-27 engine technology imported from North Korea in July 2016. However, that report was not independently confirmed by other media sources. Moreover, during a briefing to journalists on February 1, 2017, a National Security Council official described the missile tested as a Shahab, a missile based on older North Korean technology.

Given these uncertainties, there are four possibilities regarding Iran’s new ballistic missile, ordered from most likely to least likely.

The first possibility is that Iran tested a Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) based on North Korea’s Nodong missile. Initially test fired by Tehran in 1998, this weapon has a range of 950 kilometers when carrying a 1,000-kg warhead. Iran has created variants of the Shahab-3 called the Ghadr, and most recently the Emad, which deliver a smaller 750-kg payload to roughly 1,600 kilometers. The Emad, the most recent design, is similar to the Ghadr, but in principle could become more accurate since fins on its base allow the warhead to alter its flight path as it re-enters the atmosphere. Perfecting the new re-entry vehicle design requires Iran to conduct a dozen or more flight tests, essentially creating a new missile.

The second possibility is that the missile tested was a variant of the Shahab-2, based on the North’s Scud-C missile that was imported by Iran from North Korea in the late-1980s and early-1990s, called the Qiam. It has a maximum range of about 700 kilometers, which would seemingly eliminate it as well as any other Scud variants as the possible subject of the recent test flight. However, North Korea unveiled and tested a one-meter diameter Scud in the summer of 2016 capable of reaching a distance of about 1,000 kilometers. There is no evidence to suggest Pyongyang has transferred one-meter Scuds to Tehran, but it is within Iran’s technical and industrial capacity to develop a clone of the North Korean missile.

Third, the recent Iranian test may have been a solid-fueled missile derived from Iran’s Sajjil program which has not been tested since 2011. A missile consisting of only the Sajjil’s first stage would have an approximate range of 1,000 kilometers and could be used to target Arab Gulf states and US forces in the region from less-vulnerable launch positions in Iran’s interior.

The final and least likely possibility is that Iran tested a missile that is essentially the same as the North Korean Musudan. This is unlikely for three reasons.

First, if the Iranian missile were modeled on the 3,000 kilometer-range Musudan, it would be an intermediate-range ballistic missile, contrary to the US description of the Khorramshahr as a medium-range ballistic missile.

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Second, while the July 2016 and January 2017 test flights conducted by Iran were largely successful, North Korea’s tests of the Musudan failed soon after launch in six of eight attempts, a wide discrepancy that is difficult to explain even if, as some might assert, Iran is more capable at missile development.
Finally, flying a Musudan to only 1,000 kilometers is unnecessary for Iran, since it has a much larger flight corridor within which test flights can be performed and has done so.
There is also no reason to believe that Iran could not test a BM-25 to maximum range—instead, if the Khorramshahr is based on the BM-25, it would have flown a very lofted trajectory. In fact, the flight paths associated with each of the possibilities vary considerably, with a possible BM-25 launch flying to the highest altitude, and the one-meter Scud taking the flattest trajectory. The countries monitoring Iranian air space would certainly be able to distinguish between a BM-25 missile test from one involving a Ghadr or Emad. A one-meter Scud missile test would differ from either a BM-25 or Ghadr/Emad test. If a single-stage missile based on Sajjil technology were tested, its flight path and acceleration profile during boost phase would be different from that of a one-meter Scud. Given these differences, it is difficult to imagine that the US government does not know the identity of the missiles tested last July and in January 2017.

Why It Is Important To Know What Was Tested

The strategic implications of Tehran’s recent missile test and the possibility of continued missile cooperation with Pyongyang vary depending on what was actually launched. If the Khorramshahr was a Shahab-3 variant based, in part, on old Nodong technology acquired from North Korea years ago, then Iran is keeping with a pattern it has pursued over the past half dozen years—prioritizing greater accuracy and enhanced military utility. However, it would not be evidence of ongoing missile cooperation with North Korea. If the test involved either a one-meter Scud or a single-stage version of the Sajjil, then Iran has refocused its missile acquisition efforts in an attempt to diversify its stockpile and increase operational flexibility. In this case, only the development of a one-meter Scud would indicate ongoing cooperation with Pyongyang. Finally, in the least likely scenario, if the Khorramshahr did employ an R-27 engine, which uses high-performance propellants, it would signify that not only does Iran continue to have close missile cooperation with North Korea, it could also develop a road-mobile, two-stage intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the US mainland. However, such a development would not occur overnight, and would require four or five years of observable flight tests.

http://38north.org/2017/02/melleman020317/

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[1] “U.S.-RUSSIA JOINT THREAT ASSESSMENT TALKS – DECEMBER 2009,” Wikileaks, February 24, 2010, https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/10STATE17263_a.html.

Found in section: WMD

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One Response to “North Korea missiles testing to get ready for ‘strike on US bases’ — Intended to “test the Trump administration’s North Korea policy” — What is the involvement of Iran, China?”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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