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

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    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.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora