North Korean Missile Tests, Nuclear Detonations: Timeline

North Korean Missile Tests, Nuclear Detonations
Television screens show a news broadcast on North Korea's rocket launch at an electronics store in Seoul, South Korea. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

North Korea, which today fired a long-range rocket that the communist nation claims successfully put a satellite into space, began developing ballistic missiles in the 1970s, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry in Seoul.

Liftoff of the Unha-3 rocket from the Sohae Space Center at was detected by South Korea at 9:51 a.m. local time. North Korea didn’t reveal the exact launch time.

Japan estimated that debris fell into the sea away from the Korean peninsula and east of the Philippines.

An attempted launch on April 13 failed when the rocket disintegrated within minutes of liftoff.

The North’s current arsenal of operational weapons includes Musudan rockets, which may be able to carry a 650 kilogram (1,430 pound) warhead as far as 3,000 kilometers (1,860 miles), the South Korean ministry estimates.

1976-1981: Begins development using SCUD-B missile from the

Soviet Union and launch pad from Egypt.

1984: First SCUD-B missile test firing.

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


1990: First Rodong missile test firing.

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


Oct. 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 a satellite launch. United

Nations strengthens sanctions and North Korea

responds by withdrawing from six-party nuclear

disarmament talks.

May 2009: North Korea carries out its second nuclear test.

July 2009: Test-firing of SCUD and Rodong missiles.

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

(Sources: The 2010 Defense White Paper published by South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense, North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency.)

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