North Korea’s New Missiles Look An Awful Lot Like Russia’s, Experts Say | TIME
The flight path of one of the missiles launched by Pyongyang in recent days resembles the behavior of the Russian; Iskander
Military experts drew attention to the noticeable similarity between the three missiles recently tested by the North Korean regime and Russian missiles for the Iskander missiles.
On Saturday, Pyongyang launched its first short-range missile launch since late 2017. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un personally followed the tests. Two more exactly the same missiles were launched from the western part of the DPRK last Thursday. All three missiles fell in the Pacific Ocean.
According to experts, the missiles launched by Pyongyang bear a striking resemblance to the Russian Iskander, a short-range ballistic missile that has been in service with the Russian Armed Forces for more than a decade. According to Markus Schiller, a leading German expert on North Korean weapons, the missiles are clearly “characteristic features of Russian technology.”.
According to Schiller, even if the DPRK did not purchase new missiles from Moscow directly, Pyongyang received – probably through third countries – the main components of the Iskander, and the outer shell or hull could well have been produced within the DPRK itself.
Iskander-class missiles are of particular interest to North Korea. For example, Iskander-M was designed to fly at an altitude of about 40-50 km. During flight, the navigation of this rocket can be adjusted. Both of these features are critical for bypassing the missile defense systems that are in service with the American and South Korean armies. This is especially true of the Patriot anti-missile system and the THAAD anti-missile defense system..
The Iskander also boasts a fast launch, making it harder to destroy on the ground thanks to its solid propellant engine. In addition, the Russian missile uses an improved guidance system, thanks to which the Iskander is capable of more accurately hitting targets in comparison with other missiles of this class..
Despite statements by the Trump administration that these missiles do not threaten US security, in the event of hostilities, they can be used to attack US military bases in South Korea. There are now approximately 28,000 American military personnel and tens of thousands of their families in this country, as well as civilian employees of the US Department of Defense..
Pyongyang first demonstrated a mock-up of an Iskander-like missile at a military parade in 2018. This week, the North Korean regime conducted the first tests of such missiles..
Michael Elliman, director of the Nonproliferation and Nuclear Policy Program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, says further analysis of the missile’s trajectory should show whether the missiles were actually manufactured in Russia..
According to him, if it turns out that the flight trajectory and accuracy of the North Korean missile differs from those of the Iskander, then, most likely, we are talking about “local development with external technical assistance.”.
“The key point here is that no one can create a new system without taking certain steps to develop it. I have not seen anything that would indicate such actions (Pyongyang), ”says Elliman.
According to initial reports, at least one of the North Korean missiles flew along the trajectory of the Iskander..
The Iskander missile system appeared in Moscow’s arsenal in 2006. The Iskander-M missile, 7 meters long and weighing up to 4 tons, is capable of covering a distance of 400 to 500 km. Russians tested Iskander for the first time during the war with Georgia in 2008.
It was the use of Iskander that served as the main reason for the suspension of US participation in the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty). This agreement, signed by the leaders of the United States and the USSR in 1987, prohibits the production, testing and deployment of ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 km..
Russia originally planned to supply Iskander for export. In order not to violate existing international restrictions, Moscow is producing another version of these missiles with a reduced range. It is known that the Iskander-E missiles were purchased by Algeria and Armenia. Russia is currently negotiating the sale of these weapons with Iran, Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia..
According to Simon Wesemann, a senior fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia used Iskanders during the fighting in Syria. Weseman says Damascus showed interest in buying missiles, but Moscow declined the request..
The expert clarifies that Russia has no right to sell missiles to North Korea due to international sanctions imposed by the UN against Pyongyang back in 2006. According to Weseman, it is possible that North Korea reproduced a copy of the Iskander – and this is not the first known case of such “cloning”.
For example, many researchers believe that the South Korean Henmu-2 missile was created on the basis of the Iskander project. Similar weapons are also produced in China. Rockets of the DF-12 or M20 series are supplied by Beijing for export, one of the buyers is Qatar.