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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

No-dong-B / Musudan

05-11-2010/11-5-12 update

On 12 September 2003 it was reported that North Korea was working on a new missile, is based on the Soviet SS-N-6 submarine-launched missile. The North was thought to have acquired the technology sometime between 1992 and 1998. According to an un-named US Government official, "We've had hints of this for several years, but it's only within the last year that we've been able to confirm that this did exist and it's derived from Russian technology."

The North Korean and Iranian No-dong-B/Mirim IRBM missile system derived from the Acad.FV. P. Makeyev OKB SS-N-6 missile systems technology transfer to the DPRK.

The North Korean No-dong-B missile transporter erector launcher TEL system as deployed in the DPRK.

The official US Government nomenclature associated with this system is not known. The Nodong-1 designator derives from the standard US Government practice of naming a weapon systems after the most proximate place name associated with the site at which the system was first identified. Over time, the terminology Nodong-2 became associated with a lightweight version of the Nodong-1, and Nodong-3 and Nodong-4 were applied to systems subsequently designated Taep'o-dong-1 and Taep'o-dong-2. If the appearance at Mirin Airbase was the first time this SS-N-6 derivative was sighted by US intelligence, the new missile might be designated "Mirin-1" -- but for sake of simplicity we have allocated a provisional "No-dong-B" designator to this system. This would operate under the principle that single stage missiles derived from Soviet SLBM technology are of the class "No-dong" while multi-stage missiles are Taep'o-dong. The No-dong-B designation has in recent years been officially utilized by the South Korea government.

In May 2004 it was reported that prior to the Foundation Day parades on 09 September 2003, as many as ten of the missiles and five launchers were to Mirim Airbase, the preparation site for the parades. Although the missiles were not featured in the celebrations, they were noticed by Western intelligence, which prompted the news reports a few days later.

In early May 2004 South Korean newspapers reported that that in late 2003 and early 2004 US intelligence had identified construction of two new missile bases in North Korea. One facility is at Yangdok, 80 km [50 miles] east of Pyongyang, and the other base at Hochon in North Hamgyong province. By May 2004 the new bases were reportedly 70 percent to 80 percent complete.

Testifying before the parliament's National Defense Committee, ROK Defense Minister Cho Young-kil said 07 July 2004 that North Korea had deployed this new missile with a 1,860-2,500 mile range.

In 2007 it was established that North Korea had fully deployed the No-dong-B/Mirim in it road-mobile-mode.

By March 2009 it had been realized that the No-dong-B, IRBM was deployed in North Korean as a separate strategic rocket forces military division charged with it deployment, operations requirements responsibilities. This was done under the watchful controlling eyes of the Korean Peoples Army, General Staff control. This demonstrates the level of importance the DPRK embodies in this class missile instrument of State policy. The fact that it has not been publicly imaged for the world to see both in North Korea and Iran speaks volumes about its critical strategic importance within those regimes. Equally the missile's has not merely shown up as a deployed IRBM but a variant revised for altitude operations was adapted as the second stage of the Taep'o-dong-2B/Unha-2.

Iran not merely received the 18, No-dong-B's in December 2005 and more equivalents numbers in subsequent deliveries as well as its flight test out of Iran on January 17, 2006. It four separate vernier steering thrust chambers with its separate turbo-machinery from the main thrust chamber and its turbo-machinery engine has been revised to operate with two vernier thrust chambers as the second stage propulsion on the flown Safir-IRLV2 and Simorgh-IRLV space boosters concept of Iran. Simorgh utilizes the Unha-2/Taep'o-dong-2B first stage as its first stage.

The missiles and mobile launchers at the sites were reportedly consistent with the new design, different from North Korea's No-dong-A missiles. The new system is apparently different from the North's Scud and No-dong families of missiles. According to one report, the new missile is 12 meters long and 1.5 meters in diameter. Although slightly smaller than the deployed Nodong missiles [which are variously estimated at 12.4 to 15 meters long and 1.3 meters in diameter], it has a longer range and can be launched from a mobile launcher. The new missile was assessed as having a range of between 2,750 km to 4,000 km [1,800 to 2,500 miles], thus capable of targeting American bases in Guam and Okinawa. The construction of the two facilities was taken to indicate that North Korea was sufficiently confident of the performance of the new missile to begin preparations to deploy it.

The reported 1.5 meter diameter is indeed consistent with that of the SS-N-6, but the reported length of 12 meters is a bit puzzling at first. The SS-N-6 had a total length of 9.65 meters, and a total length without warhead of 7.1 meters. It appears that the No-dong-B configuration incorporates a 1.5 meter diameter engine compartment and propellant tank from the SS-N-6 configuration, and the 12 meter [length overall] results from adding the Nodong-A/1 reentry vehicle and inter stage element. Variants of the SS-N-6 had ranges of 2,400 km and 3,200, consistent with the lower end of the reported range of the No-dong-B. It is plausible that another 1,000 km of range might have been achieved in the No-dong-B as a result of a longer propellant tank, though at the price of lower thrust-to-weight ratio and slower acceleration.

The intended role of the No-dong-B is unclear. While the No-dong-1/2 could target American facilities on Okinawa, these facilities are on Japanese territory. If the reported range of up to 4,000 kilometers is correct, the system could be used to target American faculties in Guam. Guam is an American posession, and thus the No-dong-B would give the North the potential to directly target American territory. Over-eager headline writers searching for a local angle notwithstanding, there seems little prospect that a single-stage No-dong-B could reach Hawaii, much less Los Angeles. Alternately, the No-dong-B might be intended for use with a [presumably] heavier uranium bomb design, maintaining the range coverage of the No-dong-1/2 which was presumably designed with a lighter plutonium bomb design.

The Soviet SS-N-6 was originally designed to be fired from a submarine. The Soviets also evaluated firing missiles of this class from surface ships that would be designed to blend in with normal commercial shipping. The US Government is evidently concerned that the North Koreans may intend to launch this missile from small commercial vessels that have approached the coastlines of the United States.

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