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North Korea claims it has successfully tested a rocket that could bolster its intercontinental missile force


Experts said the development could be significant if the new rocket engine could be successfully integrated with an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Kim Jong Un says he will react with nuclear weapons to enemy threats 0:46

(CNN) --

North Korea said Friday it has successfully tested a solid-fuel rocket engine, a development that could lead to Kim Jong Un's regime being able to fire an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) more quickly. and reliable in the future.

The new high-thrust rocket motor was tested at a satellite launch site northwest of Pyongyang on Thursday, according to a report by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

  • North Korea plans 'world's most powerful' nuclear force, says Kim Jong Un

Photos released by state media showed North Korean leader Kim attending the test, which KCNA said provided a "guarantee for the development of yet another new type of strategic weapons system."

That could be a new intercontinental ballistic missile, experts said.

“That, my friends, is the first stage of a solid propellant ICBM,” Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said in a Twitter post.

Kim Jong Un attends the test of what North Korean state media said was a solid fuel rocket motor, in a photo released on December 16, 2022.

Experts said the development could be significant if the new rocket engine could be successfully integrated with an intercontinental ballistic missile.


"If North Korea's ground test of high-thrust solid fuel engines at Sohae is nearly as successful as they claim, it is a significant step forward for the country's development of nuclear-capable missiles," said Leif-Eric Easley, professor from Ewha University of Seoul.

Solid-fuel rockets are more stable than liquid-fuel rockets that North Korea has previously tested in ICBM launches.

That means a solid fuel ICBM could move more easily and launch faster than a liquid fuel one.

Due to those factors, the time for any adversary to react to a North Korean ICBM would be reduced.

"Once deployed, the technology would make North Korea's nuclear forces more versatile, resilient and dangerous," Easley said.

Solid fuel ICBMs are the world standard of the latest generation.

The United States' main ICBM, the Minuteman III, is powered by three solid-fuel rocket motors.

Experts warned that despite the test, North Korea will still face many challenges in deploying a solid-fueled ICBM.

“Going from a ground test of a solid fuel engine to operational, accurate and reliable missiles involves many technical hurdles.

The North Korean media may exaggerate the country's weapons capabilities and deployment timelines," Easley said.

North Korea has been testing its ballistic missiles at a record rate, launching the projectiles 34 times so far this year and sometimes testing multiple missiles each time, according to a CNN tally.

On November 18, Pyongyang tested what KCNA said was a Hwasong-17, a liquid-fueled ICBM that would have the range to reach the entire continental US.

After guiding that launch, Kim said North Korea should "clearly demonstrate its strongest willingness to retaliate against war games of hysterical aggression by enemies seeking to destroy peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and the region”, referring to the United States and South Korea.

He also warned that North Korea will take a "more offensive" reaction if the US "flaunts its military might in and around the Korean Peninsula," according to KCNA.

A senior US administration official described the Hwasong-17 as "a new escalation" due to its long range and ability to reach the US mainland.

Despite North Korea's successful long-range missile tests, experts say it has not shown whether it is capable of building a system that would allow a nuclear warhead to survive re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.

Because ICBMs are launched into space, like space shuttles or space capsules, the warhead must be able to withstand the fiery journey through the outer layers of Earth's atmosphere without burning up.

“I am someone who thinks that it would probably (survive re-entry).

There are some people who have doubts about it," Lewis told CNN earlier this year.

Still, few dispute that North Korea is making progress.

“Tests are important.

The North Koreans continue to qualitatively refine their nuclear capabilities in pursuit of a stronger US nuclear deterrent,” said Ankit Panda, Stanton Senior Fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"The big picture is that North Korea is literally becoming a leading operator of large-scale missile forces," he said.

Meanwhile, US and international observers have been warning for months that North Korea appears to be preparing for an underground nuclear test, with satellite images showing activity at the nuclear test site.

Such a test would be the hermit nation's first in over five years.

ICBMMintercontinental missile

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2022-12-16

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