North Korea seen launching new ICBM military unit amid troop refurbishment

North Korea may have launched a military unit tasked with operating new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in line with its recent restructuring of the military

North Korea has unveiled an apparently new solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile, photos released by state-run media showed, as leader Kim Jong Un doubles down on a pledge to build even more advanced missiles and nuclear bombs.

The bulk of North Korea’s long-range ballistic missile arsenal consists of weapons that use liquid fuel, which requires them to be fueled up at launch sites — a time-consuming process that leaves them open to pre-emptive strikes. Solid-fueled ICBMs, however, would not need to be fueled up, making them easier to deploy quickly and more difficult to spot and shoot down.


During a nighttime parade last week, North Korea showcased multiple ICBMs that are large enough to strike nearly anywhere in the world. The missiles included what some analysts said could be a prototype or mockup of a new solid-fuel ICBM in canister launchers.

Earlier at the parade, a previously unknown flag was attached to the new ICBM’s launcher, indicating the military might have created a separate unit to operate the weapons. Cho Han-bum, a senior fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul, said the flag “effectively confirmed the new ICBM unit” and could signal a forthcoming test of a solid-fuel weapon.

Many of North Korea’s specialised units have their own flags. The ICBMs shown at past military parades were decorated with the national flag or nothing.

The new red-gold flag, with a black missile soaring into the sky inside a circle, was also displayed among other military flags when leader Kim Jong Un and his family walked into the parade venue.

North Korea’s state media reported on a restructuring of its Korean People’s Army (KPA) and redesign of its flags this week, saying the change was in line with its push for “building a powerful army.”