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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs