How Often Does North Korea Test Missiles


Since its founding in 1948, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) or commonly known as North Korea has been known for their development of missiles and weapons of mass destruction. North Korea has been launching missiles and conducting nuclear tests, both of which violate the rules, regulations, and international non-proliferation laws. Most recently, North Korea has been testing missiles at an alarming rate. It has been estimated that since 1983, the repressive state has conducted approximately 17 missile tests.

Data Relevant to Missile Testing

According to the latest research, North Korea has been expanding their missile program extensively and is estimated to have as many as 25 different types of missile. North Korea’s missile program is wide ranging and includes: short-range ballistic missiles, medium-range ballistic missiles, intermediate-range ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles and a growing arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Moreover, in the last three years, North Korea has tested approximately 18 missiles, which is an average of six missile tests per year. Of these 18 tests, 12 were Short Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBMs), four were Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs), and two were Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). This level of missile testing is alarming for international non-proliferation and nuclear deterrence standards.


North Korea’s missile program is a major threat to international security. Their missile tests are not only alarming, but they are also dangerous, as they have been conducted near civilian populations and are a direct violation of international law. In addition, North Korea’s missile tests have been conducted in secret, often without any warning or notification to the international community. This secrecy is what makes North Korea’s missile program so dangerous and concerning.

Furthermore, North Korea’s missile tests have not been uniformly spread out in time. In 2017, they conducted nine missile tests, while in 2018 they only conducted three. This unpredictability is what makes their missiles so difficult to deal with and control. Despite international disapproval and various sanctions, North Korea continues to test new missiles, further threatening international peace and stability.

Experts’ Perspectives

Experts are split on how to address North Korea’s missile program, with some arguing for a diplomatic solution to the problem and others advocating for a more forceful stance. Ambassador Yohei Sasakawa, Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, has stated that “the international community must take firm steps to address the growing threat of North Korea’s missile program and should use diplomatic means to resolve the issue.” Professor Joseph Nye, the former global dean of the Harvard Kennedy School at Harvard University, believes that “while military action is not an option, the international community needs to consider additional economic and diplomatic sanctions to pressure North Korea into ceasing their missile testing.”

Analysis & Insights

North Korea has been launching missiles at an incredible rate, making them one of the most pressing international security threats. In order to effectively address the threat, the international community must come together to support a diplomatic solution. Despite various attempts at sanctions and other forms of pressure, North Korea continues to expand their missile program. Therefore, a more comprehensive approach may be necessary in order to effectively deal with this threat.

Potential Solutions

The international community has attempted to create solutions for North Korea’s missile threat. These solutions range from diplomatic talks between the United States and North Korea to more comprehensive international sanctions. However, these solutions have yet to be effective, as North Korea continues to violate international regulations.
Some experts have suggested majorly investing in missile defence systems, such as the US National Missile Defence (NMD) or the Russian S-500 system, as a way of deterring North Korea from further missile tests. Other solutions include creating an international agreement or treaty that would regulate the use of ballistic missile technology, similar to what was done with chemical and nuclear weapons.
Finally, there have also been suggestions to negotiate with North Korea and establish a comprehensive agreement that would allow North Korea to keep its technological capabilities in exchange for reduced missile testing and increased transparency. This would create an environment where North Korea would be held accountable for its actions and the international community could monitor and verify their compliance with the agreement.

Political & Cultural Impact

The danger posed by North Korea’s missile program has had a deep political and cultural impact. Politically, the missile tests have created tensions between the United States and China as well as between Russia and the United States, among other nations. Furthermore, North Korea’s missile program has created a sense of insecurity within the international community, particularly among countries in the East Asian region.
Culturally, the missile tests have had a damaging effect on the North Korean people, who continue to suffer under a repressive regime with no access to independent media or the right to criticize their government. In addition, the missile tests and the international response to them have created a rift between North and South Korea and damaged the chances of a peaceful reunification.
Finally, the missile tests have caused economic harm to the region, with some estimates placing the cost of the tests at over $1 billion. This economic impact has been felt most acutely by the North Korean people, who are already living in extreme poverty and now must contend with the economic and political ramifications of their government’s actions.

International Response

The international community has responded strongly to North Korea’s missile program, with the United States, China, and Russia leading the way. The United States has imposed multiple rounds of sanctions on North Korea and is reportedly working on a solution through diplomatic channels, while China has been attempting to use its influence with North Korea to rein in its missile program.
The United Nations Security Council has also issued multiple resolutions condemning North Korea’s missile tests and demanding that they cease all missile launches. In addition, the international community has been working together to hold North Korea accountable for their actions, with some nations calling for the establishment of a global missile treaty.
Finally, Japan and South Korea have both threatened to take action if North Korea continues to launch missiles. Japan has stated that it would take “all necessary measures” to respond to the threat, while South Korea has increased its military presence and is reportedly ready to deploy weapons to counter any North Korean missiles.

Cassie Grissom is an American journalist and author living in Seoul, South Korea. She has been studying the Korean peninsula since 2011, and her work focuses on understanding human rights issues in North Korea. In addition to her work as an author, Cassie is an active advocate for human rights in North Korea. She regularly shares stories about life in North Korea with international audiences to raise awareness of the plight of its citizens.

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