North Korea’s missile arsenal is under the control of the Strategic Rocket Forces, based South Pyongan province, outside Pyongyang.
A branch of the Korean People’s Army, it operates six primary fixed launch sites but also has mobile tractor-erector-launcher units that are able to travel around the country and launch missiles, making them more difficult to track.
The North’s early missiles were copies of Russian Scud-class weapons but the regime has invested heavily in developing advanced new missiles in recent years.
In total, North Korea is believed to have around 1,000 ballistic missiles, although the majority are shorter-range weapons – with ranges of between 30 miles and 300 miles – aimed at targets in South Korea.
North Korean missile ranges
In the last two years, however, the North Korean military has stepped up its test launches of a number of new missile variants, demonstrating with the most recent launches that they can travel more than 7,400 miles.
North Korea’s most advanced rockets are now also believed to be able to reach virtually all of the continental United States, with only the Florida peninsula presently beyond their range.
North Korea successfully tested a liquid-propelled Hwasong-10, with a range of around 2,500 miles, in June 2016. Analysts say the weapon may be able to carry a nuclear warhead of as much as 2,700 lbs.
In February, a 1,800-mile capable Pukguksong-2 missile was successfully launched, while the Hwasong-14 that was successfully launched on a lofted trajectory in early July is estimated to have an effective range of 6,210 miles.
The Hwasong-13 intercontinental ballistic missile that was last tested in October 2016 is understood to have a range of 7,450 miles and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
As well as nuclear warheads, North Korea is understood to have large stockpiles of chemical weapons, such as sarin, VX gas and tabun, which could theoretically be weaponised and attached to ballistic missiles.
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