North Korea’s missile launches and nuclear detonations: A timeline

Here’s how North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programme developed over the years


A file photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Photo: AFP
A file photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Photo: AFP

Seoul: North Korea fired four ballistic missiles early on Monday with three falling into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, the government in Tokyo said. South Korea’s Yonhap News said the regime may have launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, though there was no official confirmation of that.

Here is a history of North Korea’s rocket launches and nuclear detonations:

1976-81: Begins development using SCUD-B missile from the Soviet Union and launchpad from Egypt

1984: First SCUD-B missile test firing

1988: Operational deployment of SCUD-B and SCUD-C missiles

1990: First Rodong missile test firing

A mock North Korean Scud-B missile, center left, and South Korean missiles are displayed at Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea. File photo: AP
A mock North Korean Scud-B missile, center left, and South Korean missiles are displayed at Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea. File photo: AP

1998: Operational deployment of Rodong missiles, which have a range of 1,300 kilometers. Firing of Taepodong-1 missile, which North Korea says was a satellite launch

2005: North Korea announces possession of nuclear weapons and its withdrawal from six-party talks aimed at ending its atomic program

July 2006: Taepodong-2, Rodong and SCUD missiles test firings. Taepodong-2 is a long-range missile that could eventually travel 10,000 kilometers and be able to strike targets in the U.S.

October 2006: Korean Central News Agency announces “a successful nuclear test”

2007: Operational deployment of Rodong missiles

April 2009: Firing of Taepodong-2 missile, which North Korea says was satellite launch. United Nations strengthens sanctions and North Korea responds by withdrawing from six-party nuclear disarmament talks

May 2009: North Korea carries out second nuclear test

July 2009: Test-firing of SCUD and Rodong missiles

December 2011: North Korean leader Kim Jong Il dies, clearing way for son Kim Jong Un to take power

April 2012: North Korea says Unha-3 rocket launch failed

December 2012: North Korea launches Unha-3 rocket that puts its first satellite into space

February 2013: North Korea conducts third underground nuclear test

August 2013: North Korea reported to have restarted nuclear reactor to produce plutonium

May 2015: North Korea claims to have tested a submarine-launched missile; says it developed technology to mount nuclear warhead on a missile

July 2014: North Korea conducts series of missile tests ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Seoul

September 2015: North Korea threatens nuclear attack against US and reaffirms its main reactor is operational. South Korean president Park Geun Hye says North would “pay a price” for fourth test

December 2015: Kim Jong Un says North Korea is “ready to detonate” a hydrogen bomb

6 January 2016: North Korea says it successfully tests hydrogen bomb

A man watches a TV news programme showing photos published in North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper of North Korea’s ‘Pukguksong-2’ missile launch at Seoul Railway station in Seoul, South Korea. File photo: AP
A man watches a TV news programme showing photos published in North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper of North Korea’s ‘Pukguksong-2’ missile launch at Seoul Railway station in Seoul, South Korea. File photo: AP

7 February 2016: North Korea launches a long-range rocket that it says successfully put a satellite into orbit

24 August 2016: North Korea successfully launches a ballistic missile from a submarine

5 September 2016: North Korea fires three ballistic missiles about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), at least one of which entered Japan’s air defence zone

9 September 2016: North Korea conducts fifth nuclear test

16 October 2016: North Korea fires a ballistic missile that immediately explodes after launch

12 February 2017: North Korea fires an intermediate-range Pukguksong-2 ballistic missile into nearby seas, drawing a joint rebuke from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump, who were meeting in Florida. It flew 500 kilometers (310 miles) into the sea east of North Korea

Passengers watch a television broadcasting a news report on North Korea firing ballistic missiles, at a railway station in Seoul. Photo: Reuters
Passengers watch a television broadcasting a news report on North Korea firing ballistic missiles, at a railway station in Seoul. Photo: Reuters

6 March 2017: North Korea fires four ballistic missiles, with three falling into Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Bloomberg

More From Livemint