Information about DPRK missile system technology has been reported in the Japan's Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai (NHK), or the Japan Broadcasting Corporation for several years. Japan is very aware of the DPRK missile threat because Japan has been within the targeting range of North Korea missile systems since the late 1990s.
Throughout the Clinton Presidential years (January 1993 - January 2001), North Korea succeeded in developing its “Nodong” missile and nuclear programs. By 1998 DPRK's “Nodong” missile had a range estimated at up to 900 miles and was capable of covering South Korea and most of Japan.
In the United States, the Americans in the dark about the DPRK (and their partner Iran) missile programs. DPRK and Iranian programs have paralleled each other since the 1990s. The following is a brief primer on DPRK's Taep'o-dong programs:
The Taep’o-dong 1 is a medium-range, liquid and solid propellant, single warhead ballistic missile.
The missile is said to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to a maximum range of 2,000 km (1,243 miles). This missile has been in development since 1990 and with advance testing and a successful first test launch in 1998. Apparently Iranian and Pakistani personnel were involved in the first test launch. Source: Missile Threat.Com - Taep’o-dong 1The development of the Taep’o-dong 2 is estimated to have begun at the same time as the Taep’o-dong 1, in 1990.
The Taep'o-dong 2 missile is a 2-stage liquid, possible 3-stage, with a range of 6,000-9,000 km. Pakistan and Iran have jointly received technical assistance on their missile projects which are derivatives of DPRK's Taep’o-dong 2 project. The Iranian Shahab-5/Shahab 6 is similar in technology and in design to the Taep'o-dong 2. It is expected that proliferation of DPRK technology will pass to other countries in the same manner as their other weapons programs. Source: Missile Threat.Com - Taep’o-dong 2In August 6, 2003, Japan’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported that DPRK and Iran were negotiating a deal for the export of DPRK's long-range Taep'o-dong 2 missiles to Iran. Apparently they were also working jointly in development of nuclear warheads. Source: FAS org - CRS Issue Brief for Congress August 27, 2003
Links for more information on DPRK Missile Technology:
- Missilethreat.Com - News Archive North Korea
- FAS - Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) DPRK - Iranian Shahab - 3 Technology
- FAS - Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) DPRK - Iranian Shahab - 6 Technology
- Janes: Iran moves its Shahab 3 units
- History of Ballistic Missile Development in the DPRK