North Korea launch: Chronology of North Korean missile development

North Korea's locket launch of earth observation satellite Kwangmyong 4 in a picture taken from North Korean TV and released by South Korean news agency Yonhap on Feb 7, 2016.
North Korea's locket launch of earth observation satellite Kwangmyong 4 in a picture taken from North Korean TV and released by South Korean news agency Yonhap on Feb 7, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea on Sunday (Feb 7) launched a long-range rocket seen by much of the outside world as a covert test of ballistic missile technology for a future weapons system capable of striking the US mainland.

These are key dates in the reclusive nation's missile programme.

- Late 1970s: Starts working on a version of the Soviet Scud-B (range 300km). Test-fired in 1984

- 1987-92: Begins developing variant of Scud-C (500km), Rodong-1 (1,300km), Taepodong-1 (2,500km), Musudan-1 (3,000km) and Taepodong-2 (6,700km)

- Aug 1998: Test-fires Taepodong-1 over Japan as part of failed satellite launch

- Sept 1999: Declares moratorium on long-range missile tests amid improving ties with US


- July 12, 2000: Fifth round of US-North Korean missile talks ends in Kuala Lumpur without agreement after North demands US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) a year in return for halting missile exports

- March 3, 2005: North ends moratorium on long-range missile testing, blames Bush administration's "hostile" policy

- July 5, 2006: North test-fires seven missiles, including a long-range Taepodong-2 which explodes after 40 seconds

- July 15, 2006: UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1695, demanding halt to all ballistic missile activity and banning trade in missile-related items with the North

- Oct 9, 2006: North conducts underground nuclear test, its first

- Oct 14, 2006: Security Council approves Resolution 1718, demanding a halt to missile and nuclear tests. Bans the supply of items related to the programmes and of other weapons

- April 5, 2009: North Korea launches long-range rocket which flies over Japan and lands in the Pacific, in what it says is an attempt to put a satellite into orbit. The United States, Japan and South Korea see it as a disguised test of a Taepodong-2

April 13, 2009: UN Security Council unanimously condemns launch, agrees to tighten existing sanctions. North quits nuclear disarmament talks in protest and vows to restart its plutonium programme

- May 25, 2009: North conducts its second underground nuclear test, several times more powerful than the first

- June 12, 2009: Security Council passes Resolution 1874, imposing tougher sanctions on the North's atomic and ballistic missile programmes

- Feb 18, 2011: Satellite images show the North has completed a launch tower at its new west coast satellite launch complex

- May 15, 2011: North Korea and Iran are suspected of sharing ballistic missile technology, according to a UN sanctions report

- March 16, 2012: North Korea announces it will launch a long-range rocket between April 12-16 to put a satellite into orbit

-  April 13, 2012: Rocket is launched from the Sohae satellite base but disintegrates soon after blast-off and falls into the ocean

- Dec 1, 2012: North Korea announces it will launch another rocket in December

- Dec 12, 2012: North Korea launches the multi-stage rocket and successfully places an Earth observational satellite in orbit. Outside experts say the satellite has never functioned, fuelling suspicion of the mission's scientific veneer

- Feb 12, 2013: North Korea conducts its third underground nuclear test

- Jan 6, 2016: North Korea conducts its fourth underground nuclear test, which it says was of a hydrogen bomb - a claim doubted by most experts

- Feb 7, 2016: North Korea says it has placed another Earth observation satellite in orbit with its second successful space rocket launch