Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
The Korean People’s Army [KPA] Strategic Force (also known as the Strategic Rocket Force Command), along with scientists and technicians subordinate to the Workers’ Party of Korea [WPK] Munitions Industry Department [MID], has conducted the first ballistic missile test of 2017. On February 12 (Sunday) at about 7:55 AM KST, a missile speculatively identified as either the intermediate range [IRBM] Musudan or a short-range Rodong, was launched from a transporter-erector-launcher [TEL] at the Panghyo’n Air Base in the city of Kuso’ng, North P’yo’ngan Province. The missile flew for approximately 500 km (311 miles) before splashing down in the East Sea of Korea (Sea of Japan), off the coast from Kimch’aek, North Hamgyo’ng Province. There are two airbases in Panghyo’n (one in the north and a larger one in the south) and preliminary reportage suggests the test occurred near the “south” Panghyo’n airbase. This base also has facilities under the control of the Second Economy Commission (Second Economic Committee), the manufacturing and production arm of North Korea’s conventional arms and WMDs, specifically the headquarters of the SEC’s 7th Machine Bureau (aircraft parts and communications equipment), but it has obviously expanded to the 5th Machine Bureau (WMDs). This year’s first ballistic test for 2017 occurred at the same time as the DPRK began holding events marking the birth anniversary of late leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il).