Where Does North Korea Launch Missiles From

Geopolitical Context of North Korea’s Missile Launches

North Korea continues to act as a wildcard in its relationship with the United States, South Korea and its neighbors. After years of quiet, the DPRK development and testing of long-range missile launchers have posed a diplomatic challenge for US foreign policy. North Korea’s missile launches raise international alarm, straining already tense relationships between the US, South Korea and China.
To get a better understanding of why North Korea launches missiles, it’s important to look at the geopolitical context in which these launches are taking place. North Korea has claimed a long-standing grievance with the United States on the Korean peninsula, though the recent development of their intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) has raised the stakes. The DPRK has repeatedly used these launches as a means of signaling their strong anti-American position – launching missiles over Japan to get the message across.
The United States, South Korea, and Japan have reacted to North Korea’s missile launches with increased military presence and sanctions. The US and South Korea have also announced joint military drills to deter the North. These military exercises are seen as a response to the North’s recent pursuit of nuclearization and its development of long-range missiles.

Analysis Of North Korea Missile Launches Programs

While North Korea maintains an aggressive stance in their missile launches, the United States and its allies are in no way capable of stopping these launches. The US has implemented economic sanctions, but this is seen as an ineffective deterrent, as North Korea continues to ignore international pressure and plow ahead with their missile launch program.
To further add fuel to the fire, the DPRK’s nuclear arsenal is believed to be growing. South Korea’s intelligence service has reported that the country has up to 30 nuclear warheads and 5,000 tons of nuclear material. This is despite UN sanctions prohibiting them from developing nuclear weapons.

Hostile North Korean Missile Launch Sites

So, where does North Korea launch missiles from? And what kind of missiles are they launching? North Korea has five known hostile missile launch sites – Musudan-ri, Tonghae, Kuson-ni, Kwail-ni and Pon-gori. Most of these sites are located in North Korea’s northernmost territories, close to the Chinese border.
These sites are thought to be the main launch plants for North Korea’s ICBMs, carrying warheads capable of reaching the US or Europe. North Korea has also launched some of its missiles from sea-based platforms, such as the Jangbogo, the Son Won Il and the East Sea Missile Range.

Long Range Missiles Used By North Korea

The most worrisome of the North’s missile arsenal is its ICBMs, believed to have a range of 5,000-7,000 km. North Korea has launched several different types of ICBMs – the Hwasong-14 and the Hwasong-15, as well as a number of shorter-range missiles, such as the SCUD and the No Dong.
The DPRK has also developed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), which allow for a quicker response in the case of an attack. These are typically launched from the East Sea, North Korean territorial waters. The North has recently tested the KN-11 submarine based missile, suggesting that their SLBM program is advancing.

Place In International Relations

North Korea’s missile launches have painted the country in a poor light in international relations, as many countries view its actions as aggressive, provocative, and dangerous. The UN Security Council has strongly condemned the launches, saying that it was a violation of international law. Japan and South Korea have also voiced their disapproval of the DPRK, arguing that it jeopardizes regional and global peace and stability.
The United States, meanwhile, has responded by increasing its military presence in the region, calling for more sanctions against the DPRK. Nevertheless, talks between the US and North Korea have been seemingly fruitless, with neither side yielding ground.

North Korean Domestic Narrative

To gain a better understanding of the DPRK’s motivations for launching missiles, it’s important to look at the domestic narrative. For the last several years, North Korea has looked to build its public image and instill national pride in its citizens. The missile launches are seen as a way for North Korea to show the world that it is a strong and capable power.
The North Korean government uses this narrative to rally its people around the idea of national independence and autonomy, with the missile launches being used as a way to strengthen their ideals. The country also announced its intent to use nuclear weapons against the US, further emphasizing its hostile message.

Condemnation from Overseas

It is clear that North Korea’s missile launches have been met with condemnation from the international community. Countries such as South Korea and Japan have heightened their security against any potential North Korean aggression. The UN Security Council has established multiple economic sanctions in an effort to deter the DPRK from launching more missiles.
The United States has responded by increasing its military presence in the region, deploying additional assets to help protect its allies in the region. However, this has failed to deter North Korea, as the country continues to launch its missiles over Japan, South Korea, and the East Sea.

Meaningful Negotiations

To end the hostile tensions between the US and North Korea, meaningful negotiations must take place. The North has been unwilling to enter talks with the US, but recently, the South Korean government suggested a plan for the region, calling for talks and an eventual denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The US and South Korea have also discussed joint military drills, which could act as a deterrence against North Korea.
At this point, it remains unclear if North Korea would be willing to enter into negotiations. However, if meaningful dialogue can take place, it may pave the way for the denuclearization of the region and a better understanding between the US and its allies.

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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