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"The Leap in North Korea's Ballistic Missile Program: The Iran Factor"

Various images shown on screens at the General Satellite Control and Command Center show the launch of North Korea's Unha-3 rocket, Dec. 12, 2012, in Pyongyang, North Korea.
AP Photo

"The Leap in North Korea's Ballistic Missile Program: The Iran Factor"

NBR Analysis Brief

Policy Brief, National Bureau of Asian Research

December 2012

Author: John S. Park, Faculty Affiliate, Project on Managing the Atom

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Managing the Atom; Science, Technology, and Public Policy


"North Korea's successful launch of a long-range missile has turned a hypothetical into an emerging reality. Recent U.S. intelligence estimates warned of a North Korean missile capable of reaching the shores of Alaska and Hawaii in a few years. Failed missile tests since 1998 had inoculated many observers with the belief that North Korea's long-range missile development program had more bark than bite. Pyongyang had been reportedly using missile tests as a bargaining chip rather than as part of a concerted effort to attain long-range capability. North Korea's leap forward in mid-December, however, clearly demonstrates that the nascent Kim Jong-un regime is on a credible path to further improving its long-range missile capabilities.

How did Pyongyang pass the chronically elusive threshold of completing a three-stage rocket test and placing a satellite in orbit? The Iran factor has been hiding in the open...."

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For Academic Citation:

Park, John S. "The Leap in North Korea's Ballistic Missile Program: The Iran Factor." Policy Brief, National Bureau of Asian Research, December 2012.

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