North Korea’s state media has released footage showing last week’s missile launches, warning that what it calls “reckless military hysteria” by the US and its allies is driving the Korean peninsula towards an “unstable confrontation”.
But it made no mention of Thursday’s alleged failed launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), and the information released was too incomplete for experts to get a true picture of what the tests achieved.
According to a report published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Monday, Pyongyang fired more than 80 missiles between November 2 and 5, and held air force exercises involving “500 fighters… to demonstrate its willingness to counter the enemy’s combined air force.” ”
The report said maneuvers It was a direct response to the “open provocation” of last week’s US-South Korean “Waiting for the Storm” tests in the region, which the allies extended by a day in response to North Korea’s recent wave of missile tests.
The KCNA report said the missiles were fired to simulate attacks on enemy air bases and destroy aerial targets at different altitudes and distances. He summarized the number of missiles fired each day, but did not specify which models were tested.
And he gave very few details about the missile that Japan and South Korea believed to be an ICBM launched on Thursday, referring only to a ballistic missile it tested at the request of the Academy of Defense Sciences.
In a briefing on Monday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea’s failure to mention the ICBM did not change the fact that the missile was an “ICBM that did not normally fly.”
Retired South Korean Lt. Gen. Chun In-bum told CNN that the ICBM miss in Monday’s state media report suggested that Pyongyang does not want to disclose its failure to the North Koreans.
“It appears to have failed in the third stage, so what North Korea says is that they ignored the UN resolutions and the alliance’s opening for peace and conducted a provocative test of an ICBM and it appears that it did not achieve its goal,” he said. he said
“I think we should focus on the facts, not what North Korea says.”
South Korea’s JCS said The ICBM – potentially a North Korean-made Hwasong-15 or Hwasong-17 – reached a maximum altitude of less than 2,000 km and a maximum speed of about Mach 15, which is 15 times the speed of sound – not fast enough. , according to Park Won-gon, professor of North Korean Studies at Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul.
“ICBMs must achieve speeds of Mach 20 or higher for the missile to enter atmospheric space and use its inertia to travel far, but in this test, it is believed that this propulsion did not occur,” Park said.
Thursday’s launch follows a previous one in May, suspected to be a Hwasong-17, launched on the heels of US President Joe Biden’s first presidential trip to Asia.
Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies and a former South Korean army commander, said the lack of information made it difficult to decipher progress between the two tests, and that success also depends on North Korea’s goals.
“What if North Korea were testing to get some data they wanted to verify in their missile development?” Kim asked. “The experiment may be to study separation, or it may be to check the flight distance of the missile… depending on the purpose of the test, (the result) will be different.”
Monday’s KCNA report referred to a ballistic missile test on Thursday – believed to be an ICBM – but said it was used to “verify the reliability of the movement of a special functional warhead that crippled the enemy’s operational command system”.
Kim, of the University of North Korea Studies, said this could indicate a missile used to test a potential EMP (Electromagnetic Field) attack. “EMP missiles have to go very high above the ground to be effective,” Kim said.
An EMP attack at high altitude would deliver an intense burst of electromagnetic energy strong enough to knock out electronic networks, circuits or communications.
“If the EMP missile detonates at an altitude of 1,000 km or more, remove power from the area and thereby paralyze (the command system).”
But other experts disagree that North Korea was testing a potential EMP missile. Shin Jong-woo, an analyst at the South Korea Defense and Security Forum, said EMP missiles are typically launched at altitudes of hundreds of kilometers, not thousands.
South Korean military experts are continuing to analyze images and data to determine the status of North Korea’s weapons program, but experts warn that claims in state media should be treated with skepticism.
Shin said the multiple launches could be a sign that North Korea is racing to prove its capabilities.
“In the past, when North Korea launched a certain missile, it showed it by presenting accurate data, but today’s announcement seems to contain a lot of fictional content.
“North Korea conducted a nuclear test after demonstrating its ability to strike the US mainland,” Shin said. “But the Hwasong-17 tests are failing, so it seems that North Korea is launching so many missiles because it is in a desperate situation and in a hurry to prove itself.”