North Korea. A series of successful robot tests
strengthened North Korea's position in the outside world
during the year, which led to rising international concern
and sharply increased tensions between North Korea and the
In May, North Korea tested a new type of robot called
Hwasong-12. It reached an altitude of 200 miles and landed
in the Japanese sea. Even greater potential was Hwasong-14,
which North Korea tested on two occasions in July. The robot
type was the country's first "truly intercontinental
ballistic missile (ICBM)", according to the British BBC. The
robots flew for 39 and 47 minutes respectively and landed in
the Japanese sea. According to analysts, Hwasong-14 had the
capacity to reach a range of up to 10,400 kilometers, which
meant it could reach from northeastern North Korea all the
way to New York.
Countryaah.com, reactions to North Korea's robot tests were strong and
during a meeting in August, the UN Security Council
unanimously approved the most stringent sanctions against
the country to date. Among other things, North Korea was
banned from exporting coal, iron, lead ore and seafood.
However, the Russian Federation and China were critical of
sanctions. They would rather see reduced military activity
from the US and South Korea in exchange for freezes of North
Korea's robot tests.
At the end of August, North Korea continued to postpone
yet another Hwasong-12 robot despite the sanctions. The
robot was fired from an area near Pyongyang and passed over
the Japanese island of Hokkaido before crashing into the
Pacific Ocean east of Japan. The incident was described as
unusually serious as this was the first time a ballistic
robot flew over the territory. Both Japan and South Korea
and the United States condemned North Korea's actions in
harsh terms and threatened with counter-attacks if the
Almost a week later, North Korea conducted its sixth
nuclear test since 2006. The test was the most powerful to
date and measured the magnitude of 6.3. According to the
North Korean regime, the bomb, which was said to have been a
hydrogen bomb, could be shot away with one of the country's
robots. In response to the nuclear test, the UN Security
Council agreed on further sanctions against North Korea.
Among other things, all UN countries were prohibited from
issuing work permits for North Koreans.
Despite that, North Korea test-fired in late November the
country's most powerful robot, known as Hwasong-15. The
missile was fired at an estimated altitude of 450 miles and
landed in the Japanese sea within the Japanese economic
zone. According to analysts, the new robot had a potential
range of 13,000 kilometers. In connection with the test,
President Kim Jong Un stated that North Korea, whose robots
could now reach the US mainland, had achieved the
long-awaited goal of becoming a nuclear power. Since
February, North Korea had test-fired a total of 23 robots.
The UN Security Council responded to the postponement with
further sanctions in December. For example, oil exports to
North Korea were restricted by up to 90 percent.
At the same time, trial proceedings were underway in
Malaysia against two women, accused of having murdered
President Kim Jong Un's half-brother Kim Jong Nam at Kuala
Lumpur Airport on February 13. The murder was suspected to
be linked to the North Korean regime and four North Korean
agents were called in March by Interpol. According to South
Korea's intelligence agency, Kim Jong Un was believed for
several years to have planned to murder the half-brother,
who lived in exile.