The History of North Korea's Arsenal

4 MINS READNov 28, 2017 | 21:31 GMT

This undated photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 30, 2017, shows a test-fire of a ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

As the world watches for Pyongyang's next move, we take a look back at the missile and nuclear tests that have brought its weapons program this far....

Editor's Note

The war of words between the United States and North Korea is escalating, and the world is watching intently to see what each country does next. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has even threatened to carry out an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific Ocean. But such a display would simply be the latest in a lengthy series of missile and nuclear tests that spans over a decade. Each new step that Pyongyang has taken in its development of missile and nuclear technology has been critical to its goal of acquiring a viable nuclear deterrent to U.S. military action against it. And further strides are on the horizon.

  • Nov. 29, 2017: North Korea launches an intercontinental ballistic missile from Sain Ni near Pyongyang. It flew a distance of 960 kilometers for 50 minutes at an altitude of 4,500 kilometers, later landing in the Sea of Japan, 210 kilometers off the west coast of Japan's Aomori prefecture.
  • Sept. 15, 2017: North Korea launches another Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile that flies over northern Japan. The missile reached an altitude of 770 kilometers and flew a distance of 3,700 kilometers.
  • Sept. 3, 2017: North Korea carries out a sixth nuclear test. Pyongyang claims it was a test of a hydrogen bomb.
  • Aug. 28, 2017: North Korea launches a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan's Hokkaido region. The missile travelled 2,700 kilometers and reached a maximum height of 550 kilometers.
  • Aug. 26, 2017: North Korea test-fires three short-range ballistic missiles. Two travel approximately 250 kilometers.
  • July 28, 2017: North Korea launches another Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile.
  • July 4, 2017: North Korea launches a Hwasong-14, which expert analysis suggests qualified as an intercontinental ballistic missile as Pyongyang claimed.
  • June 8, 2017: North Korea test-fires four surface-to-ship cruise missiles.
  • May 29, 2017: North Korea tests a ballistic missile, which it claims was a KN-17.
  • May 21, 2017: North Korea test-fires a Pukguksong-2 medium-range ballistic missile, reaching an altitude of 2,100 kilometers.
  • May 14, 2017: North Korea test-fires a Hwasong-12 missile from Kusong on the country’s west coast.
  • April 15, 2017: North Korea's 2017 Day of the Sun military parade showcases a variety of new military hardware, including new missile variants. Tensions rose in the Pacific around speculation of an impending North Korean nuclear test, but this did not materialize.
  • April 5, 2017: North Korea launches what is believed to be a Pukguksong-2 missile into the East Sea.
  • March 22, 2017: North Korea conducts a failed test from a location near an air base in Wonsan.
  • March 6, 2017: North Korea launches four ballistic missiles toward Japan; all plunge into the sea short of land.
  • Feb. 11, 2017: North Korea test-fires a Pukguksong-2 medium-range ballistic missile over the East Sea.
  • Sept. 9, 2016: North Korea conducts its fifth underground nuclear test.
  • April 28, 2016: North Korea test-fires two mid-range Musudan missiles. Both appear to have failed.
  • Feb. 7, 2016: A North Korean long-range ballistic missile launches a satellite into orbit.
  • Jan. 6, 2016: North Korea claims to have detonated a hydrogen bomb. Observers confirm the country's fourth nuclear detonation, but the type of device cannot be determined.
  • Dec. 21, 2015: North Korea successfully tests a submarine-launched ballistic missile test.
  • Nov. 28, 2015: North Korea launches a submarine-launched ballistic missile test. It fails.
  • March 26, 2014: North Korea launches two ballistic missiles that fly around 650 kilometers and reach Mach 7 before falling into the sea east of the peninsula.
  • Feb. 12, 2013: Seismic data indicates that North Korea carries out a third nuclear test. Later monitoring confirms the claim.
  • Dec. 12, 2012: North Korea launches another Taepodong/Unha rocket and says it successfully put a satellite into orbit.
  • April 13, 2012: North Korea launches a long-range Taepodong/Unha rocket but admits the launch was a failure.
  • May 25, 2009: North Korea conducts a second nuclear test detonation.
  • April 5, 2009: North Korea launches a three-stage Taepodong/Unha rocket and claims it placed a satellite into orbit, but no satellite is detected.
  • Oct. 9, 2006: An initial North Korean nuclear weapons test takes place underground, drawing U.N. sanctions to restrict the sale of ballistic missile technology to the nation.

Connected Content

Regions & Countries

Article Search

Copyright © Stratfor Enterprises, LLC. All rights reserved.

Stratfor Worldview


To empower members to confidently understand and navigate a continuously changing and complex global environment.