Night Watch

North Korea: On 30 July, North Korea fired four short-range rockets in an easterly direction, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The rockets, judged to have come from a 300-millimeter multiple rocket launcher, were fired from a site near Mount Myohyang in North Pyongan Province in north central North Korea towards the Sea of Japan. Two rockets flew for just a few seconds and apparently failed in flight. A third flew 210 kms and probably splashed into the Sea. A fourth failed in flight after 130 kms and fell inland.

According to South Korean press analysis, this was the first time that a North Korean unit has fired a 300--mm rocket from an inland location and for such a rocket to travel more than 200 kilometers, or full range. In the past, most rocket launches have been from coastal sites.

The press also noted that Wednesday's firing marked the 16th time that the North has launched rockets this year. It also was the fifth firing of 300-mm rockets in 2014.

The latest launches brought the total number of North Korean rockets and missiles fired in 2014 to 102.

Comment: North Korean forces have launched more missiles and long range rockets this year than in any of the past 30 years. The conventional wisdom about the lack of launches was that the North Korean leadership wanted to preserve its wartime stocks. It tested missiles and rockets for quality control of production and to maintain minimal crew proficiency.

Apparently the conventional wisdom was at least partly accurate because today's test featured at least a 50%, and possibly a 75%, failure rate.

Another novelty is firing across the country instead of out to sea. The actual trajectory is not available in open sources, but almost any missile that falls on land risks hitting civilians and structures. However the North's leaders might judge that over land launches improve the security of the tests.

Iraq: A car bomb exploded in an eastern Baghdad neighborhood, killing one civilian and injuring nine. A second car bomb detonated in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City in Baghdad, killing 2 civilians and injuring 11.

Comment: Fighters and supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continue to show their reach and capability. The frequency of bombings in Baghdad is slowly increasing.

Politics. Iraqi news services published contradictory reports about whether Prime Minister al-Maliki will run for a third term.


Night Watch

NightWatch is an internationally acclaimed nightly newsletter that tracks and assesses threats to US national security. It has an edgy, executive style unlike any other summary of its kind.
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