North Korea Nuclear Detonations, Missile Tests: Timeline

North Korea conducted its third underground nuclear test today, three weeks after the United Nations increased sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime following its December long-range rocket and satellite launch.

North Korea detonated “an atomic warhead that is lighter and miniaturized but with a big explosive charge,” the official Korean Central News Agency said today. South Korea said the nuclear explosion took place at 11:57 a.m. local time with an estimated yield of 6 to 7 kilotons, bigger than North Korea’s previous tests in 2006 and 2009.

The UN strengthened sanctions against North Korea after it launched an Unha-3 long-range rocket in December. The North began developing ballistic missiles in the 1970s and its 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), according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry.

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


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

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

Dec. 2012: North Korea launches Unha-3 rocket that puts

its first satellite into space.

Feb. 2013: North Korea conducts its third underground nuclear test.

(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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