North Korea’s missiles are loaded with Western components

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The world has been talking about North Korea’s threats since the end (not the conclusion) of the Korean War. However, the truth of the matter is that for many decades North Korea has not been involved in an active armed conflict, but has been producing weapons. Unfortunately, Russia is attacking Ukraine with weapons obtained from North Korea and now we know how well they work.

North Korean missiles used by Russian forces against Ukraine are causing heavy damage and are difficult to shoot down.

North Korean missiles used by Russian forces against Ukraine are causing heavy damage and are difficult to shoot down. Image credit: via National Police of Ukraine Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 4.0)

Russia is not as powerful as it used to be, so it now relies on North Korean weapons to continue attacking Ukrainian cities. One such North Korean weapon that is being used against Ukrainian cities is the KN-23 – a strategic ballistic missile with a warhead of around 500 kg. Not much was known about the KN-23 before, but now experts can learn a lot by studying its wreckage from Ukraine.

of the UK Conflict Armament Research (CAR) has investigated In January this year, 290 pieces of North Korean ballistic missiles were found in the Kharkiv region. The researchers were mostly interested in the weapon’s electronics and its origins.

It turns out that 75% of the ingredients examined were of American origin, and another 16% could be traced to companies registered in Europe. The remaining 9% of investigated components were from Asian companies. Those components essentially make up the missile’s navigation system, which was assembled in North Korea.

KN-23 ballistic missile. KN-23 ballistic missile.

KN-23 ballistic missile. Image from open sources

Another interesting finding was that at least one North Korean ballistic missile in Russia’s war against Ukraine could not be assembled before March 2023. In other words, it is brand new. Of course, the fact that these missiles are new means nothing.

In fact, in a way, it makes perfect sense as the KN-23 was designed in 2018 and entered service only recently. This suggests that North Korea’s missile industry is alive and well. This should not be taken to mean that North Korea has no stockpile and is therefore delivering new missiles straight off the assembly line – it may be cheaper to ship them from factories.

The KN-23 is a ground-launched strategic ballistic missile with a range of 450-600 km. It uses an inertial navigation system, although some experts believe it is also capable of some level of satellite navigation. The missile is said to have an accuracy of 35 meters, which will be impressive indeed. It is commonly compared to the Russian Iskander-M, but it is certainly not a complete copy of it.

How does North Korea get Western components for its missiles? Of course, other countries smuggle them. Kim Jong Un owns Western cars and other luxury goods from Europe and the US – importing small electronic components doesn’t seem too difficult either.

Written by Povilas M.

Source:, Wikipedia

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