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​North Korea, Being Under International Sanctions, Uses Up to 75% of Microcircuits From the USA to Produce Ballistic Missiles

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North Korean KN-23 missile / Open source photo
North Korean KN-23 missile / Open source photo

The number of Western components in North Korea's ballistic missiles tells absolutely clearly about the real effectiveness of sanctions

The Conflict Armament Research (CAR), which is engaged in arms research, published a report on the investigation of the fragments of the ballistic missile produced by the DPRK, with which the russian federation hit Kharkiv on January 2, 2024. The tipe of the missile has not yet been determined for sure, the researchers note, it could also be either KN-23 or KN-24.

CAR investigation team’s overall goal was to identify the components used in the missile's navigation system. The result of the study as a whole can be considered a verdict on the entire mechanism of sanctions currently applied against countries that violate international law, particularly by Western countries. Thus, 75% of the 290 microcircuits found in the North Korean missile are marked by American companies. Another 16% are from the EU, in particular 11.9% from Germany. Asia accounts for only 9%, in particular China - 2%, and Japan - 3.1%. At the same time, no chips from companies from South Korea have been recorded.

Read more: ​It Seems that North Korea Helps russia with Ammunition for Rare 240-mm Cheburashka MLRS
Distribution of chips by country in the KN-23/24 missile, Defense Express
Distribution of chips by country in the KN-23/24 missile / Source: Conflict Armament Research

Even more noteworthy is the fact that 75% of all microcircuits were produced between 2021 and 2023, and the missile itself, given the manufacturing dates of the electronics, could not have been assembled earlier than March 2023.

Distribution of years of production of chips in the KN-23/24 missile, Defense Express
Distribution of years of production of chips in the KN-23/24 missile / Source: Conflict Armament Research

Thus, the analysis of North Korean missile’s components completely demonstrates the absolute helplessness of sanctions, as well as existing non-proliferation regimes, that should prevent this country from creating ballistic missiles. Pyongyang has fully mastered the possibility of creating electronic modules of the missile, in particular the navigation system, using non-military electronic components.

"The presence of a large proportion of recently produced non-domestic electronic components in a North Korean ballistic missile strongly suggests that the country has developed a robust acquisition network capable of circumventing, without detection, sanction regimes that have been in place for nearly two decades," the researchers emphasize.

Remnants of a North Korean missile documented by CAR on 27 January and 1 February 2024 in Ukraine, Defense Express
Remnants of a North Korean missile documented by CAR on 27 January and 1 February 2024 in Ukraine / Source: Conflict Armament Research

Moreover, the study of Conflict Armament Research is quite possible to extrapolate to other North Korean weapons - for example, to the Hwasong-17 missile, which can be a carrier of nuclear weapons and with which Pyongyang threatens the United States. It can be assumed with great probability that no less part of the electronic components in this intercontinental missile also originates from American companies.

North Korean Hwasong-17 missile, Defense Express
North Korean Hwasong-17 missile / Open source photo

Although we are talking about civil electronics, which do not fall under the existing export control mechanisms, but is it really so important when the result is known - the sanctioned country receives the necessary components in order to achieve the set goals.

The quality and reliability of such missile guidance systems assembled in the DPRK may be quite low, but the accuracy of missiles, especially nuclear ones, may be of little concern to the dictatorial North Korean regime, but it should be of concern to all those who may be hit by such unreliable nuclear-tipped missiles, in particular and the US...

As Defense Express reported, Ukrainian study showed, that Warhead of North Korean Missiles Weighs Up to 1,000 kg But the Fire Accuracy is Low. We also wrote, that Valuable for russia Cargo with North Korean Weaponry Sank Along with Caesar Kunikov Ship, Destroyed by Ukraine.

Read more: ​North Korea is Becoming Backyard of russia's Military Industry (Opinion)