The Musudan intermediate range ballistic missile.

Four of these missiles have failed in test launches over the past two months.

The Musudan intermediate range ballistic missile.

Four of these missiles have failed in test launches over the past two months.

An image from video released yesterday by North Korean state media of a submarine ballistic missile test launch.

The sub-launched missile test actually took place in April.

The KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile has thus far gone untested, but it could conceivably strike at the western continental US.

On Wednesday, the state media of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) broadcast video of leader Kim Jong Un watching what appears to have been a successful launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile. However, the launch actually took place in April.

The footage was broadcast now, according to analysts, likely as an attempt to demonstrate North Korea’s nuclear threat as a senior DPRK official meets with China this week.

The broadcast may also be an attempt to draw attention away from a string of failed launches of North Korea’s Musudan intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM).
The video was broadcast just after analyst reports said North Korea had made a fourth failed attempt in two months to test-launch the Musudan—a missile designed to strike at targets as distant as Guam and the Philippines.

The missile exploded on launch.

Earlier on April 15, North Korea’s military attempted a launch from a mobile launching system, but it exploded shortly after liftoff. Just two weeks later, as North Korea was preparing for the congress of the Worker’s Party, there was an attempt at a dual launch—with both missiles crashing into the sea.
The Musudan, also known as the BM-25, was introduced in 2003.
It is derived from the Soviet-era R-27 (NATO designation SS-N-6) and is essentially an improved solid-fuel “Scud” missile. North Korea has allegedly sold kits of the Musudan to Iran.

The missile is believed to have a range between 2.500 and 4,000 kilometers (1,500 to 2,500 miles).

But since its initial appearance, there had been no known test launches of the Musudan—only ground tests of the engine.
As Dr. John Schilling, an aerospace engineer in the satellite industry and ballistic missile and space analyst, wrote for the US-Korea Institute’s blog 38 North, it’s very uncommon for North Korea to stage repeated launch attempts so quickly after a failure.

Typically, the DPRK’s military has gone back to the drawing board for as long as a year before making another attempt in order to find the root cause of the failure.

The double-launch failure is even more puzzling, given the first failure just two weeks earlier—at least, it’d be puzzling outside of the context of North Korean politics.
It’s possible that North Korea simply believed the Musudan, which was built from Russian parts, didn’t need to be tested, and the launches were purely a political move.
That doesn’t mean North Korea’s nuclear threat has been blunted.

The apparent success of the submarine-launched ballistic missile in April, along with the completion of North Korea’s first launch-capable ballistic missile submarine, are ample cause for concern anywhere within intermediate range (the same targets the Musudan would strike).

Those actions are an even greater threat to South Korea and Japan in terms of warning times for attack.

Additionally, there’s the KN-08 mobile intercontinental ballistic missile being developed by North Korea.

That system boasts an estimated a range of 9.000 kilometers (5,500 miles), capable of striking the west coast of the continental US.