North Korea's missile threat to Guam: Tracking Pyongyang's quest for a working ICBM

United States president Donald Trump's "tough talk" to North Korea seems to have fallen on deaf ears as Pyongyang announced its new detailed plans for firing four ballistic missiles that would fly over Japan and land near the US territory of Guam.

While Trump has hardened his warning, saying that North Korea would face "fire and fury" if it kept threatening the US, it seems to have little effect on Kim Jong Un. After the recent announcement by Pyongyang, Trump warned North Korea it should be "very, very nervous" of the consequences if it even thinks of attacking US soil.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

The warnings issued by the US, the threats by North Korea to do significant damage to US territories and China's apparent reluctance to take a hard stance against Pyongyang forms an endless circle. This isn't the first time North Korea has sent out such warnings. The fear of its missiles has long ruffled feathers among world leaders, with almost each country adopting being a part of a resolution to try and curtail the ever growing missile programme of North Korea. However, despite odds, warnings and sanctions, Kim Jong Un's missile programme has continued to grow.

North Korea possesses significant missile capabilities and has been one of the most active exporters of complete ballistic missile systems, components, and technology.

Pyongyang entered the field of rockets and missile in the early 1960s with the production of early rocket launchers. Then in 1965, Kim Il Sung established the Hamhung Military Academy, where North Korean personnel began to receive training in missile development.

As the country's military budget increased to about 30 percent of its state budget, North Korea received its first ballistic missile system, the Soviet Scud-B, from Egypt sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s, according to a paper by The National Committee of North Korea. Then in 1985, Pyongyang signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

In 1993, it tested a medium-range ballistic missile, Nodong, based on Scud technology. It is believed that Soviet or Russian scientists aided in the development of the missile without approval from their government. Nodong was also purchased by Pakistan in the early 1990s.

The International Atomic Energy Agency started demanding that inspectors be given access to two nuclear waste storage sites, according to a CNN report. North Korea threatened to quit NPT but later opted to continue.

It collaborated with Egypt in missile development and began selling the technology to Iran. According to an analyst quoted in the paper, North Korea hit the peak of its foreign missile sales in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In 2002, the George W Bush administration revealed that North Korea had admitted to operating a secret nuclear weapons programme in violation of an agreement that Washington and Pyongyang signed in 1994. North Korea had pledged to freeze and dismantle its graphite-moderated nuclear reactors in exchange for international aid to build two new light-water nuclear reactors.

North Korea eventually withdrew from the NPT and declared its nuclear weapons, as BBC reported. The country has had nuclear bombs since 2006 and the most effective way to deliver a bomb is to attach it to a missile. Therefore, it test fired its long range missiles and the result was United Nations Security Council passing a resolution to demand that Pyongyang suspend its programme.

North Korea claimed to have conducted its first and second nuclear test in 2006 and 2009 respectively. In defiance of the United States and UNSC resolution, North Korea said it will continue long-range rocket launches. The launches will feed into an "upcoming all-out action" targeting the United States, "the sworn enemy of the Korean people," The New York Times quoted National Defence Commission of North Korea as saying.

In 2017, Kim Jung Un's announcement that his country would soon test an intercontinental missile sent ripples throughout. Just months after this, North Korea successfully tested an ICBM in July, 2017. The "landmark" test of a Hwasong-14 missile was overseen by leader Kim Jong-Un.

The ICBM test and the warning issued of a missile that can reach Guam are just the latest in a series of provocations that have ratcheted up tensions.

With inputs from AFP

Updated Date: Aug 11, 2017 19:37 PM

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