|North Korean/U.S. Designation||Hwasong-13/KN-08|
|Mobility and Role||Road Mobile/Surface-to-surface Intercontinental Ballistic Missile|
|Warhead Type and Weight||Conventional or Nuclear/300-700kg|
|MIRV and Yield||N/A|
|IOC/Retirement||2017, Most likely retired, if entered service at all|
|Status/Number of Units||N/A|
Despite the many uncertainties that exist in regards to North Korea’s intercontinental-range ballistic missiles capabilities, the United States has considered the KN-08, or Hwasong -13, to be a serious threat that can increase North Korea’s strike range and strategic influence in the region. As Kim Jong Un announced in his 2017 New Year’s Address, North Korea has entered the final stage of preparation for an intercontinental ballistic missile test which would be the fifth nuclear test conducted by the DPRK.[i] Still in the prototype phase, the KN-08 was publicized in 2012 and appears to be multistage with a projected range of at least 5,500 km. The existence of an enhanced version of the KN-08, known as the KN-14, has been confirmed to exist by the Pentagon.[iii] The KN-08 was tested on two occasions in 2016, both ending in failure. It was successfully tested in 2017. It is unclear whether or not the KN-08 was ever actually operational, as no KN-08 variants were ever tested, and early sightings were judged to be mockups.
In comparison to the KN-08, the KN-14 is noticeably shorter in length with a blunt, cone-shaped nosecone. First unveiled on October 10th, 2015 the KN-14 is expected to possess a smaller warhead carrying capacity and shorter range than its counterpart.
The KN-08 and the KN-14 represented a significant progression in North Korean ballistic missile technologies and, if capable of striking the U.S. homeland, provides the Kim regime with diplomatic leverage against the United States. Indeed, ICBM capabilities will allow the DPRK to place pressure upon the U.S. and its allies to gain negotiating power in international organizations such as the United Nations. The KN-08 and KN-14 could also pressure the U.S. to reconsider its policy approach to North Korea, replacing the current strategy of isolation with one of regional containment, mutual deterrence, or engagement.
- January 1 2017: Kim Jong Un announces to be in the final stage for test launching an ICBM[vii]
- June 22 2016: Test launch conducted for IRBM Musudan which is believed to have been a proxy test for ICBM launch capabilities[viii]
- April 9 2016: Large liquid-fuel rocket engine test suspected to be the KN-08[ix]
- March 15 2016: Guided test for KN-08 nose cone[x]
- October 10 2015: KN-14 ICBM is publicized during military parade in Pyongyang[xi]
- August 2014: Long range engine test conducted which was suspected to be the KN-08[xii]
- February 2013: Underground nuclear test is conducted which was suspected to be the KN-08[xiii]
- April 2012: KN-08 road-mobile ICBM is publicized during military parade in Pyongyang[xiv]
- June 2011: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warns that North Korea is developing a road-mobile ICBM[xv]
[iii] Washington Free Beacon. http://freebeacon.com/national-security/pentagon-confirms-new-north-korean-icbm/
[vi] The Korea Herald. http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170114000027
[xv] The National Committee on North Korea. http://www.ncnk.org/resources/publications/Missile_Issue_Brief.pdf