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North Korean Missile Test In Iran?

A curious report begs the question: Did North Korea test a long-range missile in Iran?

North Korea may have used a launch pad in Iran to test a new missile capable of hitting American bases in the Pacific island of Guam, according to reports from Japan and South Korea.

The missile, named after the Musudan testing range in North Korea, was recently shown off to the public at a vast military parade in the capital, Pyongyang, according to the reports. South Korean and American intelligence reports suggest that the weapon may then have been tested in Iran, with which North Korea is known to have military links.

The Musudan missile had not been previously recorded. North Korea has a known capacity to build short- and medium-range missiles, including the Taepodong-1 which it fired over Japan in 1998 to the alarm of Tokyo and its allies in Washington.

However, it has had less success with developing long-range missiles. It has been working for several years on a Taepodong-2, which would be targeted at America's western seaboard. But a test launch carried out last July ended in failure, with the missile landing in the sea not far from the border between North Korean and Russia.

The new missile is said have been identified by American military satellite pictures of the rally held in April to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean army. The weapon is thought to be based on Soviet technology.

The report is anemic on details of the launch other than intelligence analysts' suspicions, which are quite plausible. After all, Iranian military officials from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps were at the July missile test in North Korea cited above. And they were also known to be present at the October 2006 nuclear bomb test in North Korea.

The first question that came to mind was one of trajectory and impact zone. If it was launched and detected, how far did it travel and where did it strike land?


A perhaps more alarming because less expected recent case of `mutually helpful' weapons testing was the disabling off the Lebanon coast of an Israeli warship using a Silkworm-type shore-to-ship missile of Chinese design. The implications for the USN's carrier fleet are no doubt under study. Bear in mind that WWII has shown that the slaughter of many thousands of an enemy's civilians is of much less military importance than the acquisition of technology that will disable one of said enemy's key military assets.

I don't have a direct link to the article (no subscription), but on May 17th, Stratfor had an article titled, "North Korea: A New Missile and Regional Politics" in which they analyzed the situation from an arms and regional political perspective.

Jay's reference is on point. Missile capabilities - wherever demonstrated - are part the tester's regional politics. And their `target' can make use of its `potential victim' status to further its own ends. For example, Japan's prime minister Abe is making use of NK's flying missiles to induce his people to permit revision of their pacifist Constitution. The Center for Security Policy's e-mail publication has referenced Abe's willingness to involve Japan in the defense of Taiwan. The subtext is that the U.S. may not be trusted to continue to so be. Abe's citations of the hated NKs' missile threat serve as cover for fear of China's gathering might. Conversely, the NK leaders' `awe inspiring' demonstrations of military prowess are instruments in their within -peninsula negotiations over the unification of Korea. Vis-a-vis the South Koreans' wealth the NK's have little to offer but military power. Therefore, as they put it, if you join with us in the unified Korea that all our people want , in exchange for your sharing your wealth we will defend you from the bad-intentioned powers that surround us.