The estimates indicated that North Korea had already-flight tested
the ER Scud and assessed its range as between 700 and 1000 km. By contrast,
Scud B and Scud C missiles have a range of 300 km and 500 km, respectively.
The missiles fired on Monday appear to be consistent with
these descriptions. Estimates of the missile, based on models created by Nathaniel
Taylor of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, suggest it is approximately 1
m in diameter, making it wider than a Scud (.8 m) but narrower than a Nodong
(1.3 m). It may also make use of a lighter-weight aluminum airframe, compared
to the Scud’s steel airframe.
The most recent missile launch seems to confirm that the ER
Scud has a range of 1,000 km. In June
2016, the Joongang Daily reported that a joint assessment by the United States
and South Korea concluded that the ER Scud could fly more than 1,000 km.
This is consistent with U.S. estimates found in leaked diplomatic cables, which
describe the ER Scud as capable of carrying payloads greater than 500 kg—equivalent
to a nuclear-weapon
sized payload—to a range of approximately 1,000 km.
A 700 km variant appears to have been sold to Syria. North Korea’s public testing of the ER Scud is troubling to those who monitor ballistic missile
proliferation, and perhaps an advertisement for those states seeking to illicitly
acquire long-range missiles. In light of
North Korea’s prior sale of a 700 km-range version of the missile to Syria, the
international community should be aware that the ER Scud is likely to appeal to
states with Scud missiles looking to illicitly purchase longer range missiles.
An additional proliferation concern exists, relating to
long-standing ties between Iran and North Korea. The images appear to show a
separating warhead that had previously only been seen in Iran several years
earlier on a Shahab-3, an Iranian variant of the North Korean Nodong. A separating warhead would pose additional challenges for missile defense systems such as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which has been envisioned by the United States as integral to deterring North Korean missiles.
 “US STRATCOM Detects, Tracks North Korean Missile Launches,” U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs, September 5, 2016, www.stratcom.mil
 “North Korea Develops New Scud Missiles,” The Chosun Ilbo, February 15, 2005, english.chosun.com
 “North’s Scud-ER can reach U.S. base in Japan,” Korea JoongAng Daily, June 28, 2016, koreajoongangdaily.joins.com
 Ze’ev Schiff, “Syria adds new long-range Scud to arsenal,” Ha’aretz News, May 29, 2000, web.arcvhive.org (www.freerepublic.com/forum/a3932d87a4a42.htm)