News / Asia

    S. Korea Says Debris Reveals North's ICBM Technology

    An undated image released by South Korea's Defense Ministry in Seoul, shows that a piece of wreckage of North Korea's Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) on a navy vessel of South Korean navy. An undated image released by South Korea's Defense Ministry in Seoul, shows that a piece of wreckage of North Korea's Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) on a navy vessel of South Korean navy.
    x
    An undated image released by South Korea's Defense Ministry in Seoul, shows that a piece of wreckage of North Korea's Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) on a navy vessel of South Korean navy.
    An undated image released by South Korea's Defense Ministry in Seoul, shows that a piece of wreckage of North Korea's Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) on a navy vessel of South Korean navy.
    South Korea is asserting, based on debris it recovered from North Korea's rocket launch this month, that the reclusive state has significantly advanced its ballistic missile technology.

    As the U.N. Security Council prepares to decide on further sanctions against Pyongyang, military officials in Seoul are releasing details about the technology used in North Korea's December 12th launch in defiance of existing U.N. sanctions.

    The Ministry of National Defense says it has retrieved several pieces of the rocket's first stage in the Yellow Sea. Its officials say initial analysis leaves little doubt North Korea conducted a test of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) technology.

    A Defense Ministry official, who would not release his name, says an analysis of the material from the Unha-3 rocket shows it has "a range of more than 10,000 kilometers if it were to carry a warhead of 500 to 600 kilograms."

    Big technology improvements

    Until now, many observers of North Korea's missile development believed it had technology to only carry into space an object weighing up to 100 kilograms.

    The improved parameters give North Korea the capability of hitting Los Angeles on the U.S. West coast. But analysts here and in other countries strongly doubt North Korea has miniaturized a nuclear weapon that could be placed atop a missile and survive a re-entry through the atmosphere.

    Officials say experts examining a three-ton oxidizer container, recovered after the launch, concluded the first-stage contained highly toxic red fuming nitric acid to help support the combustion of the rocket's fuel.

    This oxidizer, known as AK-27, is also used by Iran in its Scud missiles and can be stored ready to launch for a long time at normal temperatures.

    South Korean officials claim this indicates Pyongyang intends to develop ICBMs.

    Pyongyang has company

    Iran and North Korea are known to have conducted joint testing in the early 1990s and subsequently have shared such technology for their missile and nuclear programs. There are unconfirmed reports Iranian rocket engineers were on site for North Korea's failed April 13th launch and again for the one this month.

    The red fuming nitric acid oxidizer was used by the Soviet Union for its Cold War ballistic missiles, and also, until recent years, by successor Russia to help launch heavier payloads, such as multiple satellites, into orbit.

    South Korean officials say they are also trying to determine whether North Korea imported the corrosive aluminum alloy used to build the rocket. They say the eight panels from the first stage that were retrieved were crudely welded manually.

    Other components, the officials say, such as compression sensors and electric wires, were found to have been imported.

    The comments by Defense Ministry officials in Seoul were made Friday but embargoed for release until Sunday.

    Kim applauds success

    North Korea hailed its latest launch as a success and said it deployed a peaceful Earth observation satellite into orbit.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday praised his country's rocket scientists and technicians at a Pyongyang banquet.

    Kim says the launch was North Korea's "legal right in the peaceful use of space and a historical achievement of our [Songun] military-first policy showing our overall national power."

    He also called on the scientists to develop more powerful rockets and additional communications satellites.

    No transmissions from the satellite, however, have been detected to demonstrate that it is operational.

    Pyongyang's one-upsmanship

    But the successful firing of a three-stage rocket  - after previous failed attempts, and placing an object into orbit - is a significant propaganda victory for Pyongyang over Seoul.

    South Korea has tried and failed three times to launch from its soil its own satellites into space.

    South Korea's is the world's 15th largest economy. North Korea, by contrast, is one of the world's poorest.

    The two Koreas have no diplomatic relations. They have remained in a state of war since 1953 when three years of devastating combat ended in stalemate.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    December 24, 2012 8:46 AM
    The findings, if accurate, once again show that "Western Experts" continue to be wrong, and as usual underestimate the technological capabilities of dictatorshps opposed to the West. These so called experts need to wake up, to their deficient estimates, because they endanger the security of their citizens. It is safer to overestimate, and over-prepare, than underprepare and have another Pearl Harbour... costing innocent lives. Some of these blasse underestimators, would be better off working in wall street..and.not advising gvmts.

    by: Andrew from: Cheyenne, Wyoming USA
    December 23, 2012 11:50 PM
    NExt time the north tries launching a rocket in violation of international will, shoot it down.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.