N Korea hails launch of new rocket en­gine

The Myanmar Times - - World -

NORTH Korea has suc­cess­fully tested a new high-pow­ered rocket en­gine, state me­dia said yes­ter­day, a move Seoul said was de­signed to show­case its progress to­ward be­ing able to tar­get the US east coast.

The ground test comes less than two weeks af­ter Py­ongyang det­o­nated what it said was a minia­turised atomic bomb.

Taken to­gether, the two tests raise the prospect that the iso­lated state could be inch­ing to­ward its ul­ti­mate goal of de­vel­op­ing a nu­cle­artipped mis­sile that could hit Wash­ing­ton DC.

State-run news agency KCNA trum­peted the en­gine test, which it said would give the coun­try “suf­fi­cient car­rier ca­pa­bil­ity for launch­ing var­i­ous kinds of satel­lites”.

Rocket en­gines are eas­ily re-pur­posed for use in mis­siles, and ob­servers say that Py­ongyang’s space pro­gram is a fig leaf for weapons tests.

The North’s leader Kim Jong-Un hailed the test and called for more rocket launches to turn the coun­try into a “pos­ses­sor of geo­sta­tion­ary satel­lites in a cou­ple of years to come”, KCNA said.

A geo­sta­tion­ary satel­lite must be pro­pelled to an alti­tude of 36,000 kilo­me­tres (22,500 miles) to be suc­cess­ful, a Uni­fi­ca­tion Min­istry of­fi­cial was quoted as say­ing by South Korea’s of­fi­cial Yon­hap news agency.

“The dis­tance to the eastern part of the United States is some 12,000 kilo­me­tres. The North is thus show­ing off its abil­ity” to hit the US east coast, the of­fi­cial added.

Rocket sci­en­tist Chae Yeon-Seok at the South’s Korea Aero­space Re­search In­sti­tute said such an en­gine would rep­re­sent “a tech­ni­cal leap for­ward” in de­vel­op­ing launch ve­hi­cles.

It sug­gests the North is “com­ing close to hav­ing an in­ter-con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile [ICBM] that could hit the US mainland”.

Py­ongyang reg­u­larly pa­rades home­grown mis­siles and boasts of its plan to de­velop long-range mis­siles ca­pa­ble of tar­get­ing Amer­ica.

It has al­ready car­ried out a se­ries of long-range mis­sile tests pre­sented as satel­lite launches, most re­cently in Fe­bru­ary, and has fired mis­siles from a sub­ma­rine.

A proven sub­ma­rine launched bal­lis­tic mis­sile sys­tem would al­low de­ploy­ment far be­yond the Korean penin­sula and a “sec­ond-strike” ca­pa­bil­ity in the event of an at­tack on the North’s mil­i­tary bases.

North Korea has been hit by five sets of UN sanc­tions since it first tested a nu­clear de­vice in 2006, but has in­sisted it will con­tinue.

Yon­hap news agency said two B-52 heavy bombers were to be sent from Guam to the South as a fresh show of force against the North this week. –

A man watches a tele­vi­sion news re­port, Kim Jong-Un look­ing at the coun­try’s lat at a rail­way sta­tion in Seoul yes­ter­day.

Photo: AFP

show­ing North Korean leader test ground test for a rocket en­gine,

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