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

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora