Latest development in DPRK’s ballistic missile testing regime

North Korea launched what was assumed to be an HS-12 ballistic missile over Japan. The missile flew for about 2700 km, reaching an apogee of about 550 km.

There is a huge uproar over the fact that North Korea had sent the missile flying over Japan. This is an unfortunate fact we may have to live with. North Korea is constrained by its geography. In order to launch missiles in more combat-realistic trajectories, the missiles either have to overfly Japan, or land close to the Phillipines. As it turned out, North Korea has opted to launch it over northern Japan, towards the north Pacific Ocean.

I argue that the most important development from North Korea’s latest missile launch is its commitment to a more thorough ballistic missile testing regime. North Korea is test-firing its missiles more thoroughly, launching them at different angles, from lofted trajectories to minimum energy trajectories.

This is healthy for North Korea’s ballistic missile program. Its missiles, once accepted into service, will be more reliable than their predecessors.

North Korea has indicated that it intends to conduct more launches towards north Pacific. It will be prudential for North Korea to thoroughly check each missile before sending it over Japan, as it is in everybody’s best interest to see it complete its entirely journey as planned, as opposed to plummeting onto Japanese territory. It would also be helpful for Japan to put some anti-ballistic missile systems in place, in case the missiles fail in mid-air. Lastly, North Korea could consider launching its missiles towards the seas outside Philippines. This trajectory will avoid flying over cities.