Five years in North Korea's quest for nuclear missiles

By Elizabeth Shim
Five years in North Korea's quest for nuclear missiles
This image released on September 3 by the North Korean official news service KCNA, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a briefing by scientists at the Nuclear Weapons Institute on the details of the country's nuclear weaponization program. Photo courtesy of KCNA/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- North Korea has engaged in more missile provocations during the first months of U.S. President Donald Trump's term in office than in President Barack Obama's first four-year term.

Pyongyang also conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3 in direct defiance of warnings from the United States and the international community.


Recent developments indicate North Korea is uninterested in denuclearization.

On Tuesday, after 75 days without provocations, the regime fired an intercontinental ballistic missile from the outskirts of Pyongyang. North Korea claimed the test put the final touches on its nuclear weapons development.

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Here is a timeline of previous developments and historical highlights of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

September 2017

North Korea conducts its sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3, a day after Pyongyang publishes photos of Kim Jong Un with what it claims is a hydrogen bomb.


Pyongyang then conducts a ballistic missile test on Sept. 15 in open defiance of United Nations Security Council sanctions Resolution 2375.

Summer 2017

Following Trump's summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, North Korea engages in an unprecedented series of ballistic missile tests. Pyongyang launches what it claims to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-14, on July 4.

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On July 28, the United States, South Korea and Japan report North Korea's test of an ICBM.

North Korea then launches three short-range ballistic missiles on Aug. 25, one of which explodes immediately after launch.

On Aug. 28, North Korea launches the Hwasong-12, which whizzes past Hokkaido, marking the first time a North Korea missile overflew Japanese territory since 1998.

Early 2017

On Feb. 12, North Korea launches the Pukguksong-2, a medium-range projectile based on a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

On March 6, North Korea launches four ballistic missiles that land in Japan's economic exclusion zone, which is then followed by a test of a soon-to-explode ballistic missile on April 5.

North Korea does not announce any failed tests but displays new ballistic missiles on April 15, including a new version of the KN-08, during a parade commemorating the birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung.


Obama's second term, 2013-16

North Korea responds to Obama's re-election with close to zero provocations, but begins to demonstrate its short-range projectile capabilities in 2014, then advancing to tests of medium-range Nodong missiles the same year.

In 2015, Kim begins tests of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, a strategy that continues into 2016. Two nuclear tests mark Obama's last year in office, one on Jan. 6, 2016 and a second test in September.

A mix of successes and failures mark North Korea's land-based missile tests.

Obama's first term, 2009-12

North Korea launches the three-stage Unha-2 rocket, which experts believe is a modified version of its long-range Taepo Dong-2 ballistic missile, on April 9, 2009.

Under former leader Kim Jong Il, Pyongyang conducts its second underground nuclear test on May 25, less than a year before South Korean warship Cheonan is torpedoed near the maritime border. North Korea denies responsibility for the Cheonan sinking but then bombards the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong on Nov. 23, 2010.

After a relatively uneventful 2011, North Korea tries to launch the Unha-3, a three-stage liquid-fueled rocket on April 13, 2012, but the launch is deemed a failure. The Unha-3 is launched again on Dec. 12, 2012.


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