North Korea Test-Launches New Ballistic Missile

On February 12, North Korea conducted an apparently successful test-launch of a new medium- to intermediate-range ballistic missile, dubbed the Pukkuksong-2. North Korea’s official news agency confirmed the test on February 13, quoting Kim Jong-Un expressing “great satisfaction over the possession of another powerful nuclear attack means, which adds to the tremendous might of the country.” KCNA reported that the missile is nuclear-capable and solid-fueled. The use of solid fuel was also confirmed by a written statement from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The missile was launched near the northwestern city of Kusong and flew 500 km (310 miles) before landing into the Sea of Japan. The missile reportedly reached an altitude of 550 km (340 miles). This steep, lofted trajectory indicates the missile’s range could be considerably further than its 500 km flight on Sunday. The test also involved the use of a tracked transporter-erector-launcher (TEL), distinctive from the wheeled TELs that North Korea has used and displayed in past missile tests and military parades. Although its namesake suggests the missile is a follow-on variant of the solid-fueled Pukkuksong-1 (KN-11) SLBM, it also appears to share some characteristics with North Korea’s Musudan IRBM, which North Korea flight tested eight times in 2016.

In response to Sunday’s test, the United States, Japan, and South Korea have requested an urgent UN Security Council consultation to decide how best to respond.