Asian Conversations - an online magazine to explore Asia's future

Fire in the sky

AS the heated exchange between Pyongyang and the USA continues with nuclear brinkmanship showing no end in sight, by 29 August, 2017, North Korea had fired a staggering 22 missiles over half the year, already crossing the total 21 fired in 2016. This is the biggest salvo since 1984.

While Pyongyang claims its ultimate target is Guam (and eventually Mainland United States), the escalation is a means to perfect flight and guidance technology while warhead development continues.

North Korea commenced its missile acquisition programme as early as 1976 when it acquired SCUD technology from the Soviet Union. Initial tests were carried out in Egypt. The year 1998 marked the firing of North Korea's first ballistic missile, the Taepodong-1.

North Korea claims the joint live-fire military exercises regularly carried out by US and South Korean troops just across its border are provocative and threatening. It's ICBM firings in August 2017 demonstrated that US cities like Los Angeles and Chicago could be within range. The 1 August test sent the ICBM up about 3,700km high and a distance of 1,000km. It has been extrapolated that a lower firing trajectory would extend the range considerably. – AC