The United States Forces Korea (USFK) has provisionally concluded that the projectiles launched by North Korea on May 4 and 9 were the same type of new short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), and named them KN-23. Such evaluation was officially reported to the U.S. Department of Defense via the United States Indo-Pacific Command and shared with the South Korean forces.
According to a government source on Thursday, USFK analyzed the trajectory, speed, travel distance, etc. of projectiles launched on May 4 (one shot from Hodo-bando) and 9th (two shots from near Kusong, North Pyongan Province) by a one-several tenth of a second. The analysis concluded that all three of them are a new type of SRBM with a lower altitude but faster speed and stronger explosiveness thanks to an improved propellant and guidance system. The maximum weight of the missile’s warhead is estimated to be around 500 kilograms by USFK. Both conventional and small nuclear wards heads can be mounted.
This missile is named KN-23. USFK monitors North Korea’s movements by assigning identification codes — KN (Korea North) plus number — to new missiles and multiple rocket launchers (MRLs). For example, Hwasong-15, an intercontinental ballistic missile launched in 2017, is named KN-22 and a 300mm multiple rocket launchers (MRL) is called KN-09.
Other sources said it is very unlikely for the conclusion of a new SRBM to be reversed at the final evaluation to be held later, which means there is little possibility for it to be re-categorized as a cruise missile or MRL.
Once North Korea-launched missiles are officially confirmed as ballistic missiles, active discussions will be held with regards to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874, which bans the launch of all types of ballistic missiles. The South Korean military authorities are not excluding a possibility for North Korea to be developing or getting ready to deploy another type of SRBM, other than the recently launched KN-23.
Sang-Ho Yun email@example.com