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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


North Korea showcased what appears to be a new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile in a military parade held on 14 January 2021. State-run TV reported that the country's leader Kim Jong Un attended the event at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang. The parade was held to commemorate a major meeting of the ruling Workers' Party that finished on 12 January 2021.

Defense Minister Kim Jong Gwan said in a speech that North Korea will launch its most powerful pre-emptive attacks if enemy forces threaten the country's safety. He was apparently referring to the United States. The parade included vehicles carrying many missiles. State-run media reported that SLBMs were on display.

No images of ICBMs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, were released. The event came just three months after a military parade in October of last year. At last week's meeting, Kim Jong Un called the US his country's "biggest enemy" and vowed to advance Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.

The SLBM was labeled Pukguksong-5, which appears to be a new type of device. Analysts suggest the parade was to demonstrate the country's stance ahead of US President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. The body diameter of the latest SLBM appears unchanged from the one shown in the October 2020 parade. But the nose of the missile looks somewhat longer, which suggests it could mount highly destructive warheads or carry multiple warheads. The diameter of the latest version may have been slightly bigger, according to some observers. It also looked like it can carry a larger payload. By one estimate, the Pukguksong-5 had 10 meter length and 2 meter diameter, with a minimum range of 7400 km. Another estimate concluded that the Pukguksong-5 had 10.5 meter length and 1.8 meter diameter, with a minimum range of more than 1900 km.

The previously assessed diameter for the Pukguksong-4 was 1.7 meters [about 5.5 feeter or 130 inches], slighly smaller than the 74 inches (1.85 meters) diameter of the American Trident-1, which has a length of 34 feet (10.2 meters), or the 74 inches (1.85 meters) diameter of the American Trident-2, which has a length of 44 feet (13.41 meters). On this basis, the Pukguksong-5 is generally similar in size to the American Trident-1, which has a nominal range of 5,000 miles / 8,000 kilometers. The distance between Pyongyang and Seattle is 5,150 miles / 8,300 kilometers.

Thus the Pukguksong-5 would seem to have the potential to strike the Northwestern corner of the United States from North Korean home waters. Presumably the North Koreans can also make such range and distance calculations. Probably the Pukguksong-5 has a range of rather greater than 8,000 kilomenters, though Denver at a distance of some 6,150 miles / 9,800 kilometers might represent a best case. Of course, the Pukguksong-5 might be fired from a submarine or surface ship on patrol in the Pacific Ocean, in which case all of North America would be within range.

It must be clear that there is a trade-off between the number of warheads on the missile, and the range the warheads can reach - fewer warheads can go further. Presumably DPRK planners understand their targeting requirements, and realize that dropping a flock of warheads into the water off the American west coast would be pointless, while a single warhead detonated over an American city might deter American leaders.

To some observers the Pukguksong-5 signified that the regime was trying to diversify its SLBMs. It had been about three months since North Korea unveiled the fourth version. But the reality is probably that the Pukguksong-3, Pukguksong-4 and Pukguksong-5 are the same missile, outfitted with different front ends for parade display purposes.

Korean Central News Agency called it the "world's most powerful weapon" that will "overpower the world with strengthened military technology and underwater strategy". Experts see advancements in SLBMs as a game-changer in weapons advancement since it's harder to intercept a fired missile from a submarine navigating deep waters.

An SLBM fired from a nuclear-powered submarine would be a strategic game-changer, enabling Pyongyang to launch a surprise attack from close to the US or carry out a retaliatory strike even if its land-based forces had been destroyed by an American first strike.

There are two reasons why North Korea has begun to be keen on night military parades. Based on the analysis of the photos published at the 2nd military parade, the North Korean authorities can use colorful large-scale fireworks and various lighting equipment to decorate Kim Il Sung Square as a beautiful propaganda stage at night. In particular, fighter jets spew fireworks when they soar from a high altitude. If the military parade is held in the daytime, it may not be able to successfully present similar special effects.

According to external analysis, since the 427 South and North Korea Leaders Summit and the Sichuan Gold Conference in 2018, the Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has particularly enjoyed the special additional promotional effects brought about by this gorgeous event. Therefore, in the subsequent similar promotional activities, he began to shift the focus Whether it can produce the most extreme special effects.

In the past, North Korea always disclosed various new strategic weapons to the world during military parades. From the standpoint of North Korea, only by allowing these strategic weapons to "suddenly appear" can they attract the attention of the international community in a short period of time and send a message to the world.

The U.S. and South Korea coalition forces track North Korea’s military intelligence movements throughout the day. If these strategic weapons are moved during the day, the relevant movement information may be det4eced. Soem observers speculated that if the military parade or rehearsal is changed at night, the intelligence detection equipment of the U.S. and South Korea would be useless. This is nto the case, as imaging radar satellites have equal performance day and night, and electro-optical sensors are probably equally effective regardless of the time of day.

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Page last modified: 08-05-2022 19:35:48 ZULU