Recent nuclear and missile tests have brought unprecedented severity to the DPRK. They will deal a serious blow to the country's economy. However, it is unlikely to affect its willingness to create new types of ballistic missiles. In North Korea, there was a kind of self-design school weaponsable to achieve impressive results with very scarce resources.
Of course, the DPRK cannot count on success in technological competition with developed countries, but it hardly sets itself similar goals. The North Koreans confirmed their ability to move forward independently, retaining approximately the 35 – 45 summer lag in missile technology from the leading military-industrial powers. At the same time, Pyongyang is gradually expanding its product range - from short-range missiles to more and more powerful ones, including ICBMs. Judging by the available information, the North Koreans are gradually striving to improve the accuracy of their missiles.
At the moment, there is no consensus among experts on the DPRK military industry about its ability to create a miniaturized nuclear charge that can be used as a warhead for ballistic missiles. The data on the four passed nuclear tests do not allow to draw certain conclusions, although the DPRK itself insists that it successfully solved the problem of miniaturization of charges and their installation on missiles. The Russian military does not divulge their opinion on this issue, but the prevailing opinion in the West is that the DPRK has nuclear warheads, in principle, cannot be ruled out, but there is still no evidence of their existence.
However, it is worth remembering that China, which built its nuclear weapons in the 60, tested the atomic warhead for the DF-2 medium-range ballistic missile just during the fourth nuclear test of the 27 of October 1966 of the year. Solving similar engineering tasks for 50 years later, North Korea at least has access to incomparably better computing power, more advanced equipment, and a huge amount of open sources in nuclear physics. Today's DPRK is hardly inferior to China 60-x in quality of scientific and technical personnel. Consequently, there is no reason to assume that the North Koreans are less successful in working on nuclear weapons than the Chinese 60's.
Nevertheless, even with conventional warheads, North Korean ballistic missiles are quite effective and deadly weapons. Modern missile defense systems, fabulously expensive and made with the use of technologies that are ahead of the North Korean by 40 – 50 years, do not provide guaranteed protection against old ballistic missiles.
In hostilities in Yemen, the Housits coalition fighting against Saudi-led Arabia and allied units of the old national army use the Soviet "Points", delivered from the DPRK to Yemen in 90-e "Hwason-6" and the Iranian "Tondar-69" (alteration of zenith) C-75 or HQ-2 missiles. Although of the three types of missiles, only Hwason 6 was purchased by Yemen in the DPRK, the North Koreans are producing their own clone Dots, as well as C-75 versions for firing at ground targets.
By now, it can be said with confidence that the use of these missiles was productive and led to significant losses for the troops of the Saudi coalition, despite the presence of PAC3 complexes for them, for which the fight against such targets is the main specialty. According to the French TTU bulletin, only 40 per cent of attempts to intercept Hwaseong-6 missiles were crowned with success. Moreover, this clone of the Soviet P-17 missiles, slightly modified to increase range by reducing the mass of the warhead, is produced by North Koreans from 80's and does not reflect the current potential of their industry.
"Moon" and its descendants
Korean missile programs should be considered taking into account the nature of the North Korean regime. In 1956, Kim Il Sung, taking advantage of the chaos in Moscow and Beijing, generated by the Khrushchev report at the XXth Congress, produced a lightning political coup in the country. Numerous Soviet and Chinese henchmen in the North Korean party apparatus were destroyed. From now on, the main idea of the regime was complete independence and independence from the outside world. From this principled installation logically followed the need to build an independent military-industrial complex, able to work in isolation and provide the country with the most important weapons. This task should be solved at any cost.
The regime skillfully used the interest of the USSR and the PRC in preserving the buffer socialist state on the Korean Peninsula and their fierce rivalry between themselves. The initial basis for mastering the technologies for the development and production of rocket technology was the supply of Soviet and Chinese tactical missile weapons, and then the transfer of production technologies.
In 70, the Chinese helped the DPRK to organize their own system of maintenance, life extension and modernization of several types of Soviet tactical missiles, including the C-75 and the P-15 anti-ship systems. In 1971, the two countries signed an agreement on scientific and technical cooperation, the DPRK received assistance in the form of technology and training.
It is assumed (but not confirmed) that in 1972, Pyongyang was hit by a limited batch of 9K72 complexes with Р-17 missiles from the USSR. The DPRK has sought to supply weapons of this class for many years, but for lack of mutual trust, the Soviet Union limited itself to the transfer of less sophisticated Luna and Luna-M complexes with unguided rockets. In the same year, Pyongyang, with the help of Beijing, began its own production of C-75 and P-15 clones (or rather, their Chinese versions - HQ-2 and HY-1). Thus, the North Koreans gain experience in the development of relatively complex samples.
Work has begun on copying other types of Soviet tactical missiles, such as the Malyutka anti-tank missile system and the Strela MANPADS. If necessary, samples for study and copying are purchased from developing countries - recipients of Soviet weapons, primarily in Egypt.
The transfer of technology from China continues. The two countries are trying to implement a joint project of an operational-tactical ballistic missile DF-61, which, however, turns out to be unsuccessful. Finally, in 1976, the DPRK acquires another batch of P-17 missiles, this time in Egypt. Unlike the Soviet 1972 supply, the deal with Cairo is beyond doubt. Probably, additional rockets, the existence of which did not know the Soviet experts, were very useful for studying and copying their designs.
Third World General Provider
Egypt is not the only major recipient of Soviet weapons that interacted with the DPRK. An agreement on "scientific and technical cooperation" was also with Libya.
In April, 1983 of the DPRK, apparently, conducted the first successful test of its P-17 rocket, and in October of the same year, Tehran entered the game, which signed an agreement on financing the North Korean missile program with Pyongyang in exchange for subsequent deliveries of products and transfer technologies. This collaboration continues to this day. It is with him that Iran’s many successes in creating MRSMs and space launch vehicles are associated.
In the year 1984, the USSR did begin relatively large deliveries of the 9K72 complexes to the DPRK. Meanwhile, tests of their North Korean clones are underway. Own production of these missiles, called "Hwason-5", begins after 1985, then the DPRK proceeds to transfer their production technologies to Iran. In the second half of the 80-x production rate was brought, according to US estimates, to 10 – 12 products per month. Around the 1987, large shipments of missiles to Iran began.
North Korea is among the leading suppliers of ballistic missiles to developing countries. According to the American researcher Joshua Pollack, a total of 1987 ballistic missiles were delivered from 2009 to 1200 of the third world countries. 40 percent accounted for by the DPRK. North Korean deliveries reached a peak at the beginning of 90's, then they are reduced, and since 2006, under the influence of heightened sanctions and a ban of the UN Security Council on purchases of North Korean weapons, they are disappearing.
But if the export of finished missiles under international pressure is interrupted, the transfer of technology, according to all available data, has even expanded. Technological cooperation in the missile sphere is becoming an important source of currency for the DPRK, whose role has increased immeasurably since the collapse of the USSR. North Korea’s technology partners are the two leading powers of the Islamic world - Iran and Pakistan. In addition, attempts to interact with the DPRK in the field of missile technology has been undertaken by Myanmar. By the beginning of 2010, the government of this country against the background of the normalization of relations with the United States made statements about the termination of such cooperation, but their authenticity was not confirmed, at least in the field of deliveries of certain types of conventional weapons to the military-technical cooperation of Myanmar and North Korea.
Another country that tried to deploy its own missile production with the help of the DPRK was Syria, but its plans were not completed by the beginning of the civil war. But the DPRK persistently, however, unsuccessfully tried to expand the geography of the export of rocket technologies at the expense of other large developing countries, such as Nigeria.
Middle Eastern missiles
By the end of 80, North Korea had developed and began to export a new version of the P-17 with an increased range - Hvason-6. By the year 1990, the DPRK has achieved major success in the development of its own technologies - it has a rocket, based, of course, on the P-17, but still the original design - “Nodon-1”. It has, according to various estimates, the distance from 1000 to 1600 kilometers, makes it possible to threaten not only South Korea, but also Japan. More importantly, in the 90-e technology of these missiles were transferred to Iran and Pakistan.
Nodon-1 became the ancestor of the Iranian Shahab-3 and Pakistani Ghori-1, although in both cases changes were made to the design of the missiles in order to adapt them to the local production base. "Nodon-1" and an improved version of "Nodon-2" are still the most powerful Korean ballistic missiles that have completed a full course of flight tests and confirmed their combat readiness.
More slaughter MRBRs, including the first-time Musudan (shown at the 2010 parade of the year) (with an estimated range of 4000 kilometers), have never undergone flight tests in North Korean territory. At the same time, according to a US State Department telegram published by Wikileaks, the Americans believed that in 2005 a batch of these missiles was delivered to Iran. Thus, it is possible that flight tests were carried out on its territory. As for the other North Korean missile, the supposed intercontinental KN-08, shown at the 2013 parade of the year, its test launches were not carried out even once in any part of the world.
According to American statements, North Korean space launches serve to accumulate experience in the development of ballistic missiles. This is doubtful. Such launches do not give the opportunity to experience the key element of any combat missile - the head part. It should enter into the dense layers of the atmosphere on the final part of the trajectory, not collapse and achieve the goal with a given accuracy. The ability of the DPRK to solve such complex technical problems for missiles more powerful than the Nodon has not yet been proven. Space technology has an independent value for Pyongyang, since it serves as an object of export and strengthens national prestige.
There are suggestions that Musudan is a by-product of the Safir space launch vehicle developed in the interests of Iran (the Korean version is called Unha-3). The basis is the strong external similarity of “Musudan” and the second stage of the LV. According to some Western estimates, which are not documented, in 90, DPRK reconnaissance was able to gain access to materials on the Soviet naval MRBR P-27, which served as the prototype for Musudan. In those conditions, when a significant number of old Soviet missiles and their carriers were utilized, and chaos reigned in the field of security, this possibility could be. At least for now it is known for sure that in the middle of 90's, the South Korean intelligence conducted an operation to remove the decommissioned P-27. Nevertheless, a number of specialists in rocket technology subject this version to doubt and the question of the origin of Musudan remains open.
In parallel with the creation of the BRSD, the DPRK began work on ballistic missiles for submarines. Trial launches of the rocket, which received the western designation KN-11, from the ground platform began at the end of 2014, and the throwing tests at sea were recorded in January, 2015. The rocket resembles Musudan and the P-27.
The feasibility of developing a program of marine ballistic missiles in terms of the security of the DPRK is questionable. Boats carrying such missiles will be extremely vulnerable due to the overwhelming technical superiority of the Japanese and South Korean fleets, not to mention the possibility of their strengthening by the United States. It can be assumed that the technology is developing on the basis of sales prospects, and in this case, its transfer, for example, to Pakistan can have big consequences for world politics.
Another point of development for Korean ballistic missile programs is the “Point” production of clones of Soviet 2000М9 Soviet missiles launched in the second half of 79, presumably based on the documentation and samples acquired in 90 in Syria.
Thus, to date, the DPRK is in a very limited circle of countries capable of independently developing and producing a wide range of short and medium range ballistic missiles, as well as space rocket launchers. In this case, the DPRK already knows how, or it will soon be capable of producing nuclear warheads. Only Russia, the USA, France, China, and India have similar or higher potential.
Although North Korean technology is lagging behind 40 – 50 years, they are quite deadly and effective. And unlike the large countries, the DPRK is not bound by any control or non-proliferation regimes. The export of North Korean rocket technologies to states such as Iran and Pakistan has already become an important factor in world politics and has affected the situation in parts of the planet that are far from Pyongyang. In the future, for example, after the creation of the DPRK of operational ICBMs or ballistic missiles for submarines, the destabilizing role of North Korea as a major exporter of rocket technologies will only strengthen.