Joshua PollackAnother North Korean Missile First

In all the hubbub over the Musudan IRBM (to say nothing of the artful illusion of hair) it was all too easy to miss that this weekend’s big parade in Pyongyang also featured the first appearance of at least one other missile. It’s a variant of the Nodong medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) with an Iranian-style triconic nosecone — to all appearances, a separating reentry vehicle.

For comparison, here’s an Iranian missile from somewhere in the same family tree:

The question naturally arises: how long have the North Koreans had weapons of this type? The Musudan first appeared in the South Korean and American news media in September 2003, so it’s certainly possible for Pyongyang to sit on these developments for years, if they wish. Notably, North Korean theater missiles, Nodong included, have been described in open-source reports as having improved accuracy going back at least to the missile tests of July 2006. That might be a function of the new, separating RV, at least in part.

If so, this technology might well be a joint development of the two countries’ missile programs.

The NHK TV report mentioned by the Associated Press described “three never-before-shown types of missiles and launching devices.” We’ve spotted two of them now. Does anyone out there have any bright ideas about the third?

Update. A block of at least eight of the new missiles can be seen at 0:28 in this video (thanks to Tal Inbar):

Late Update. This video segment appears to show all of the ballistic missiles exhibited at the parade.


  1. Ano N. Ymous (History)

    Two new ballistic missiles and one new SAM system makes three new “missiles and launching devices,” not?

  2. George William Herbert (History)

    Third could be the large SAM system.

  3. Peter Parker (History)

    Evidence of a new SAM system here:

    Note the 30N6E2 Tomb Stone radar lookalike, a couple of pics below that is a picture of tubes that look a bit like those used by the Chinese HQ-16.

    • joshua (History)

      Seems like we have a consensus. I’d still like to see the whole thing…

    • Peter Parker (History)

      As would we all…

  4. Peter Parker (History)

    Post 165 here:!-(2009)/page11

    The best pictures I have found to date. It reminds me of the welded oil barrels that Iran displayed a couple of months back.

  5. Scotty09 (History)

    Excuse me if this sounds like an odd question, but I was always of the understanding that all members of the Nodong/Shahab-3 family had separation warhead, correct?

    I think another interesting thing here is the TEL carrying the Nodong. I have seen an image of such a TEL before but now that I see this better image of it, does it not look identical to the Scud’s MAZ-543 just with an extra set of wheels?

    • joshua (History)

      The Scud-B, on which the Nodong is based, doesn’t have a separating warhead, as far as I know. As for the Nodong, we can only judge by looking.

    • Scotty09 (History)

      I know the Scuds dont have separating warheads (except the Russian upgrade with the EO seeker). But everything I have heard and read about the Shahab-3/Nodong is that all known variants (Shahab-3, Shahab-3B, Ghadr-1) all have separating warheads.

      Also, while the Nodong may have evolved from the Scud-B I dont think its accurate to simply say the Nodong is “based” on it. The Nodong is obviously much larger and has much greater range (not to mention a larger more powerful engine). Its more accurate to say the Shahab-3 is based on the Nodong. The Hwasong-5 is “based” on the Scud-B (largely a copy from my understanding) not the Nodong.

  6. Joshua Archer (History)

    I’ve picked up a few Japanese media that are reporting the new SAM to be a modified version of the Russian S300.

    The SBS is saying that it can intercept fighter craft at a height of 30 kilometers, and it has a range of 90km.

    Here’s one report that says something to that effect (in Japanese):

    That’s just a quick Google, but I can dig up some more if it helps the investigation…

    • joshua (History)

      Well, it’s meant to look something like that, but it’s not very convincing. Russian S-300 or Chinese HQ-9 missiles come four to a TEL, and it’s a very large TEL. What we see in the parade images is something different and smaller.

  7. brian (History)

    Here is the link to the full KCTV video of the parade via YouTube (I assume this is what aired live on TV). I’m sure this has been floating around for a bit, but I had not seen the link posted here. Seven videos total. Goes great with popcorn.

    • joshua (History)

      Aha. I’m not sure that’s the whole thing — it was over two hours, I read somewhere — but those are some long clips. Thanks very much!

    • David (History)

      Wow, they showed a lot more hardware than I would have expected.

      All the missiles seem to go past in this video:

      4 minutes in or so for the NoDong varients, then the Musdan IRBMs. There’s a whole block of each, at least 8 on show for each type.

    • joshua (History)

      I make it out to be KN-02 missiles, followed by Scuds, followed by Nodongs with triconic nosecones, followed by Musudans. Not sure if there’s anything after that — the video keeps stalling for me at this point.

    • joshua (History)

      Now it’s working. After the Musudans come the air defense systems.

  8. chris (History)

    1 hour and 48 minutes. Still a lot of popcorn, either way. Yonhap carried 50 minutes; that was just about all I wanted to sit through~

  9. Melissa (History)

    Tokyo said 8 Musudans. What’s your count?

    • joshua (History)

      I see eight.

  10. Mike (History)

    With regards to their SAM system, isn’t it a fairly big jump from the rest of their systems? To have an S-300 capable system means they could theoretically force aicraft to fly lower and thus into the hornets nest of AAA the like of ‘Planeman’ and ‘One Free Korea’ have shown (excellent sites btw!!).

    Could it be, that these could be fakes or mock-ups? It is possible.
    I just think an S-300 suddenly appearing at this parade is too big a step, with all the sanctions and funds going to their missile/ICBM program…also as noted; the TEL’s aren’t no-where like the original russian system.

    Anyway, just my opinion.

  11. Tal Inbar (History)
  12. Tal Inbar (History)

    Regarding the SAM system – it is worth notice that trucks with FOUR missile containers were paraded as well as the 2 containers trucks – see:

    (I took the picture from a video of the parade).

    • joshua (History)

      Are you sure? I can’t really tell what those trucks are at all. Is there a better image?

    • bernd reuter (History)

      Four…that’s interesting! Hard to see…first of all I was tricked and thought it would be only two (coastal style) missile tubes. For me your picture shows three tubes. Interesting that you figure out actually four. Then we should assume the two in the middle are slightly above the others. So maybe a SAM in the following heritage: Russia S-300P -> China HQ-9 -> Korean copy.

  13. bernd reuter (History)

    I think something is mixed up here. The heavily modified 5 axle MAZ 543 (Scud Truck) is carrying the normal Nodong (A) Variant with an “Iranian like warhead section”. But this is not the Musudan BM-25. That missile was shown on slightly modified MAZ 547 trucks (obviously accquired from SS-20 stuff in Belo Russia) in the same parade. It’s heritage is from SS-N-6. Sorry that they didn’t show the Taepodong 1

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