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N. Korea's short-range missiles seek to disable missile defense: CRS report

All News 01:21 January 09, 2021

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's short-range missiles pose a great threat to the United States and its Asian allies, including South Korea, as they may be used to disable the countries' missile defense system, a U.S. congressional report suggested.

The report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) comes amid a hiatus in long-range missile tests by North Korea, which has maintained a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing since November 2017.

Pyongyang, however, has increased its testing of short- and medium-range missiles.

"In 2019 and 2020, North Korea increased short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) test launches," said the report, published online on Tuesday.

N. Korea's testing of 'super-large' multiple rocket launchers
N. Korea's testing of 'super-large' multiple rocket launchers

This photo, released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on March 30, 2020, shows the North testing "super-large" multiple rocket launchers the previous day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly dismissed concerns over the North's short-range missile launches, arguing short-range missiles do not pose serious threats and that every country regularly fires such missiles as routine exercise.

The CRS report, while noting the North's short-range missile tests equally violate U.N. Security Council resolutions as long-range missile tests, said short- and medium-range missiles may also pose more immediate threats.

"North Korean SRBMs and medium-range ballistic missiles, precision-guided multiple launch rocket systems, and artillery pose the most acute near-term threats to other nations," it said.

The report also noted the recent increase in North Korea's short-range missile testing may have been a strategic decision, instead of a political attempt to draw U.S. attention.

"The newly developed KN-24 and KN-25 pose significant threats to South Korea and U.S. assets on the peninsula...Since the KN-25 is a more economical system than traditional SRBMs, the North Koreans may seek to fire large numbers of these rockets in salvos to overwhelm the ability of an adversary's missile defense systems to successfully engage all incoming projectiles," said the report.

"The newest crop of North Korean weapons -- including the Hwasong-14, Hwasong-15,KN-15, KN-23, KN-24, and KN-25 -- demonstrates mobility, potency, precision, and has characteristics that make the missiles difficult to defeat in flight," it added.

"These traits suggest that the North Korean test program may seek to achieve more than a simple political statement, and that it may be intended to increase the reliability, effectiveness, and survivability of their ballistic missile force."


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