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North Korea missile tests - a timeline

Nuclear threats
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This year alone, North Korea has attempted 17 missile launches. The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) maintains a database and analysis of North Korea's ballistic missile testing, along with its successes and failures, if they are known.

In early September 2017, North Korea appeared to be planning another missile launch, possibly of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to show off its claimed ability to target the United States with nuclear weapons, South Korea's Defense Ministry reported.

Here's the list of North Korea's missile tests -- short-, medium- and long-range -- going back to its first test in 1984.


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  • Feb. 7, 2016: North Korea fires a long-range rocket from the Dongchang-ri launch site. The rocket was fired from North Korea's west coast and tracked separately by the governments Japan and South Korea. South Korean media reported that the rocket may have failed, but provided no other details. 
  • March 10th, 2016: North Korea fires two Scud missiles. They flew for roughly 300 miles before crashing into the sea, according to the BBC. 


  • February 8th, 2015: North Korea launches five short-range missiles from the coastal town of Wosan. The flew roughly 125 miles before crashing into the sea. 
  • March 1st, 2015: North Korea launches two Scud missiles into its eastern sea in protest of U.S. military drills with South Korea. 
  • April 2-3, 2015: North Korea launches five short-range missiles off its west coast. Analysts say the rockets have a distance of about 87 miles. 
  • May 8th, 2015: North Korea successfully fires a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), the Polaris-1, from the Sinpo Shipyard. 
  • November 28th, 2015: North Korea attempts to launch another Polaris-1. However, this launch was unsuccessful. 
  • December 21st, 2015: North Korea claims that it successfully launched another Polaris-1 SLBM. 


North Korea had no known missile failures in 2014, according to NTI. However, all of the launches observed involved short-range SCUD or KN-02 missiles or medium-range Nodongs. The North did not test a multi-stage long-range missile this year. 

  • February 27th, 2014: North Korea fires four short-range Scud missiles from its Kittaeryong Missile Base to protest U.S./South Korean military exercises. 
  • March 3rd, 2014: North Korea fires two short-range Scud missiles from Wonsan Kalma International Airport. 
  • March 26th, 2014: Amid an international meeting in the Netherlands to discuss North Korea's nuclear threat, the country launched two medium-range Nodong missiles into the sea between itself and Japan. The missiles were fired from Sunchon airbase and travelled some 403 miles before crashing. 
  • June 26-29, 2014: North Korea fires three short-range ballistic missiles into the sea. 
  • July 9th, 2014: North Korea fires two short-range Scud missiles from Hwangju. 
  • July 13th, 2014: North Korea fires to short-range Scud missiles from Kaesong. 
  • July 26th, 2014: North Korea fires another Scud. 
  • August 14th, 2014: North Korea fires a short-range KN-02 missile from North Wonsan while Pope Francis visits South Korea. 
  • September 1st, 2014: North Korea fires another KN-02 missile from North Wonsan. 
  • September 1st, 2014: North Korea fires another KN-02 missile from North Wonsan. 


  • May 18-20, 2013: After a period of relative silence, North Korea fires six KN-02 short-range missiles from North Wonsan. 


  • April 12th, 2012: An Unha-3 missile is fired from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in North Pyongyan Province. This was Kim Jong Un's first missile test, and it failed, flying about 120 km into the air before it exploded, according to NTI, which also said that although this missile failed, it was seen as embarrassing to President Obama, who had attempted to restart talks for another missile testing moratorium.
  • December 12th, 2012: Another Unha-3 missile is fired from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station.


  • July 5th, 2009: Three years after the 2006 tests, North Korea tested eight missiles. The multi-state Unha failed, exploding in its second or third stage over the Pacific. Two Nodong and five Scud-C missiles were successully launched, NTI notes. 


  • July 5th, 2006: On Independence Day in the U.S., North Korea tested seven missiles, one similar to the 1998 test that started the moratorium. This one failed 42 seconds into its flight, NTI notes. The other six were successful launches, but there is some dispute over what kind of missiles these were. Some have been counted in NTI's database as Nodong missiles, and others were counted as Scud-C missiles.


  • August 31st, 1998: This was, according to NTI, one of the most significant missile tests carried out by the North for several reasons. This was Kim Jong Il's first missile test, and the missile was its first multi-stage rocket, the Taepodong-1. This was also the first of the missiles launched to overfly Japan, causing international outrage. Although this launch failed, it did fly about 4000 km before exploding in its third stage. And it nonetheless led to talks between the U.S. and North Korea and a moratorium on missile tests that would last for the next eight years.


  • May 29-30, 1993: Four missiles were launched from Tonghae, though not much is known. North Korea appears to have successfully launched a Nodong for the first time, though, notes NTI. Also, several Pakistani and Iranian observers were present -- NTI said that it's possible the North was trying to interest buyers in its missiles.


  • June: There is not much known about this test launch of a Nodong missile from Tonghae. NDI cites Japanese reports about this missile test, which is likely to have failed early in its flight.


  • July: The North carried out the successful launch of Scud-C from Chihari Missile Base, in Kangwon-do Province, near the DMZ. According to NTI, this is the sole missile launched from this location. It landed in the Sea of Japan.


  • May: This was believed to be the North's first test of a Nodong missile, also at Tonghae. It was, according to NTI, observed by U.S. intelligence while it was on the launchpad, but is believed to have had a "catastrophic failure upon launch." 
  • June: The North carried out its first known test of a Scud-C, which landed in the Sea of Japan. This test was successful.


  • May: At Tonghae, North Korea may have tested a missile - possibly a Scud-B or Scud-C. NTI cited a statement by the South Korean Defense minister on this launch, but also stated that it is as likely that no launch took place at this time.


  • April - September: According to NTI, North Korea carried out its first known missile tests -- of Scud-B missiles. These have a range of about 300 km and a payload of at least 500 kg. The North conducted at least six launches at Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground, possibly over the course of several months, rather than days. At least three succeeded and at least three failed.
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