SEOUL — North Korea test-launched what it called a newly developed tactical guided missile on Thursday, violating international sanctions.
It was the country’s first ballistic missile test in a year and its first provocation to the Biden administration, prompting the American president to warn that there will be “responses” if North Korea continues to escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The United States has tried both sanctions and dialogue to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programs.
Neither has worked.
Instead, North Korea has rapidly expanded its nuclear program and modernized its missile fleet under Kim Jong-un, the country’s young leader. The expansion of the arsenal is a growing threat to the United States and allies in the region. Here’s what’s in it.
last and most powerful nuclear test was conducted in September 2017, when North Korea claimed to have detonated a thermonuclear, or hydrogen, bomb. Estimates of the device’s explosive power ranged from 50 to 300 kilotons.
Arms Control Association.
Although the world is preoccupied with the North’s nuclear weapons, the country has also stockpiled thousands of tons of chemical and biological weapons agents that it can deliver with its missiles. When Mr. Kim’s estranged half brother, Kim Jong-nam, was assassinated in Kuala Lumpur in 2017, North Korea used the internationally banned VX nerve agent in the operation.
Its missiles can fly longer ranges.
In 2017, North Korea made big strides in its weapons capabilities.
That year, the country fired its intermediate-range ballistic missile, Hwasong-12, over Japan and threatened an “enveloping” strike around the American territory of Guam. It also test-fired Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15, the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles.
By the end of the year, Mr. Kim claimed that his country had the ability to launch a nuclear strike against the continental United States.