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North Korea facing costly $80M failure with Musudan missile program

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea facing costly $80M failure with Musudan missile program
Pyongyang’s attempts to successfully test the Musudan has led to failures, and the program could be retired, according to a U.S. analyst. File Photo by KCNA

SEOUL, June 2 (UPI) -- North Korea's intermediate-range ballistic program could be proving to be a costly mistake.

Pyongyang's attempts to successfully test the Musudan missile has led to at least three failures in April and May, according to South Korean military intelligence.

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That could mean the "end of the Musudan program," according to defense analyst John Schilling.

"Repeating a failed test again and again with no more than a month for analysis and troubleshooting will almost guarantee repeated failure," Schilling writes on 38 North, a Johns Hopkins University website dedicated to North Korea issues.

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The analyst noted the speed at which Pyongyang is carrying out the tests means North Korea is "learning nothing new," a departure from previous practice which has been to "stand down for several months to a year before another attempt."

"The Musudan desperately needs a successful test and such a success would have made for good propaganda," Schilling writes.

The need to impress could explain the reported Musudan launch attempts on April 15 and 28, ahead of Kim Jong Un's Seventh Party Congress, and then again on May 30.

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The Musudan program could also be retired because North Korea's other missile programs – the "proven Scud, Nodong and Toksa designs" – are capable of reaching the goals of an intermediate-range rocket, including a potential delivery of nuclear or chemical weapons to the U.S. island of Guam.

But if the Musudan is discontinued, the program could prove to be a costly failure for Pyongyang.

The program could have cost $80 million for the four failed launches alone, according to South Korean news service Daily NK.

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That money could have been used to feed the entire population of North Korea with 50 days worth of corn, or 290,000 tons, according to the report.

The United Nations Security Council issued a statement on Wednesday condemning the North Korean ballistic missile tests, pointing out resources are being "diverted" away from humanitarian needs.

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