November 26, 2022

Seoul CNN —

North Korean state media have released images allegedly showing last week’s missile launches with a warning that so-called “reckless military hysteria” by the United States and its allies is pushing the Korean peninsula toward “unstable confrontation.”

But Thursday’s alleged failed launch of an ICBM was not mentioned, and the information released was too incomplete for experts to get any real insight into the results of the tests.

According to a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report released Monday, between Nov. 2 and 5, Pyongyang fired more than 80 rockets and conducted air drills involving “500 fighters … to show the will of the enemy’s combined air drill.” to counteract. ”

According to the report, the maneuvers were in direct response to the “open provocation” of “vigilant storm” exercises between the US and South Korea that took place in the region last week, which the allies extended by a day in response to North Korea’s volley of missile tests .

According to the KCNA report, missiles were launched to simulate attacks on enemy air bases and destroy air targets at various altitudes and distances. It summarized the number of missiles launched each day but did not specify which models had been tested.

And it provided very few details about the missile launched Thursday, which Japan and South Korea suspected was ICBM, referring only to a ballistic missile it had tested at the request of the Academy of Defense Science.

During a Monday briefing, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea’s failure to mention the ICBM did not change its assessment that the missile was an ICBM that “was not flying normally.”

Retired South Korean Lt. Gen. Chun In-bum told CNN the omission of the ICBM from Monday’s state media report indicated that Pyongyang did not want to publicize its failure to North Koreans.

“It seems that it failed in the third phase, so whatever North Korea claims they have neglected UN resolutions and the alliance’s peace offer and conducted a provocative test of an ICBM and it appears that it is not achieving its intended goal has,” he said.

“I think we should focus on the facts, not what North Korea claims.”

North Korea does not mention ICBMs in report of more than 80 missile tests

South Korea’s JCS said the ICBM — possibly a North Korean-made Hwasong-15 or Hwasong-17 — reached a maximum altitude of less than 2,000km and a top speed of about Mach 15, meaning it traveled 15 times the speed of sound — not fast enough, according to Park Won-gon, a professor of North Korean studies at Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul.

“ICBMs must reach a speed of Mach 20 or greater for the missile to fly into atmospheric space and travel far using its inertia, but in this test it is assumed that such propulsion did not occur,” Park said.

Thursday’s launch followed a previous one in May that was believed to be a Hwasong-17 fired after US President Joe Biden’s first trip to Asia.

North Korea missile launches, location unknown, North Korea, November 2022.

Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies and a former South Korean Navy commander, said the lack of information makes it difficult to decipher progress between the two tests — and that success also depends on North Korea’s goals.

“What if North Korea conducted tests to obtain specific data it wanted to verify during missile development?” asked Kim. “The experiment can be used to study separation, or it can verify the flight distance of the rocket… 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 the ICBM – but said it was used “to verify the movement reliability of a special functional warhead designed to cripple the enemy’s operations management system.”

Kim of the University of North Korean Studies said it could point to a missile being tested for a potential EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack. “EMP missiles have to fly very high above the ground to be effective,” Kim said.

North Korea says it fired more than 80 missiles between November 2nd and 5th.

A high altitude EMP attack would deliver an intense burst of electromagnetic energy strong enough to knock out electronic networks, circuits, or communications.

“If the EMP missile is fired at an altitude of 1,000 km or more, it can deplete the area of ​​energy and, as a result, cripple (the command system).”

However, other experts disagree that North Korea is testing a potential EMP missile. Shin Jong-woo, an analyst with the South Korean Defense and Security Forum, said EMP missiles are typically only launched to altitudes of hundreds of kilometers, not thousands.

South Korean military experts continue to examine the images and data to determine the status of North Korea’s weapons program, but experts warn claims in state media must be treated with skepticism.

Shin said the multiple launches could be a sign North Korea wants to show off its capabilities.

“When North Korea has launched a specific missile in the past, it has boasted of presenting specific dates, but today’s announcement appears to have a lot of fictional content.

“North Korea conducted a nuclear test after demonstrating its ability to strike the US mainland,” Shin said. “But Hwasong-17 tests are failing, so it seems North Korea is launching so many missiles because it is in a desperate situation and in a hurry to prove itself.”