How North Korea graduated from Russian Scud-B to hypersonic missiles

North Korea said it has conducted a second hypersonic missile test, a sophisticated technology it is pursuing as a top priority for its arsenal.

North Korea's Scud-B missile

North Korea said Thursday it has conducted a second hypersonic missile test, a sophisticated technology it is pursuing as a top priority for its arsenal.

North Korea started working in the late 1970s on a version of the Soviet Scud-B missile with a range of around 300 kilometres carrying out its first test in 1984.

Between 1987 and 1992, it developed longer-range missiles, including the Taepodong-1 (2,500 km) and Taepodong-2 (6,700 km).

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Taepodong-1 missile test-fired over Japan

The Taepodong-1 missile was test-fired over Japan in 1998 but the following year, Pyongyang declared a moratorium on such tests as ties with the United States improved.

However, in 2005 the moratorium ended as North Korea blamed the "hostile" policy of US President George W. Bush's administration and carried out its first nuclear test on October 9, 2006.

In May 2009 the North Korean regime conducted a second underground nuclear test, several times more powerful than the first.

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Kim conducts North Korea's third nuclear test

Kim Jong-Un succeeded his father Kim Jong Il who died in December 2011 and oversaw a third nuclear test in 2013. 

North Korea then conducted a fourth underground nuclear test in January 2016 which Pyongyang claimed was hydrogen bomb

In March, Kim claimed North Korea had successfully miniaturised a thermonuclear warhead. In April, it test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

On August 3, it launched, for the first time, a ballistic missile directly into Japanese-controlled waters. Later that month, it successfully test-fired another SLBM.

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North Korea targets US bases

Between February and May 2017, Pyongyang launched a series of ballistic missiles that fell into the Sea of Japan also known as the East Sea in Korea.  North Korea claimed it was meant to hit US bases in Japan.

In May, Pyongyang said it had tested the "newly developed mid/long-range strategic ballistic rocket, Hwasong-12". It flies 700 kilometres before landing in the Sea of Japan.

Two months later, North Korea announced it had successfully tested on July 4 an inter-continental ballistic missile capable of reaching Alaska - a gift for the "American bastards" announced on US Independence Day. Kim's regime also conducted a second successful ICBM test on in July.

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16 times the size of the US bomb that destroyed Hiroshima

Former president Donald Trump threatened Pyongyang with "fire and fury" over its missile programme.

However, North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on September 3, 2017. Monitoring groups estimated a yield of 250 kilotons, which is 16 times the size of the 15-kiloton US bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

Within days, the United Nations adopted an eighth series of sanctions as North Korea fired an intermediate-range missile over Japan. 

Just over a month later, Washington declared North Korea a "state sponsor of terrorism", a day before adding to pressure on the isolated state with fresh sanctions.

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Hwasong-15 ICBM targets US

Pyongyang launched a new Hwasong-15 ICBM which it claimed could deliver a "super-large heavy warhead" anywhere on the US mainland. 

Analysts agree the rocket is capable of reaching the United States but voice scepticism that Pyongyang has mastered the advanced technology needed to allow the rocket to survive re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

In his New Year speech in 2018, Kim said the development of North Korea's nuclear force has been completed but catalysed by the Winter Olympics in South Korea, a rapid diplomatic thaw begins in February.

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ICBM launches

In 2018, Pyongyang said nuclear blasts and ICBM launches will cease immediately and the atomic test site at Punggye-ri will be dismantled to "transparently guarantee" the end of testing.

However, After the Hanoi summit in February 2019, negotiations between the United States and North Korea were deadlocked.

There was fresh tensions in 2021 with North Korea carrying out a number of high-profile weapons tests, including a claimed submarine-launched ballistic missile, a long-range cruise missile, a train-launched weapon, and what it says is a hypersonic gliding missile.

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North Korea starts 2022 with hypersonic missile launch

In its first major weapons test of 2022, North Korea said it has carried out a second hypersonic missile test, with a warhead capable of gliding as well as lateral movement during flight.

The test on Wednesday "reconfirmed the flight control and stability of the missile in the active-flight stage and assessed the performance of the new lateral movement technique applied to the detached hypersonic gliding warhead", KCNA said.

The launch also verified the "fuel ampoule system under winter weather conditions", it added.

Seoul and Tokyo had detected the launch of a suspected ballistic missile from North Korea that fell in the sea east of the Korean peninsula.

The United States condemned the launch and urged Pyongyang to sit down for talks.

(Photograph:AFP)

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