North Korea 'rocket' could fly 10 000km

2012-12-23 12:14
The rocket Unha-3, carrying the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, being monitored on a large screen at a satellite control centre in Cholsan county, North Pyongan province in North Korea. (KCNA VIA KNS/ AFP

The rocket Unha-3, carrying the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, being monitored on a large screen at a satellite control centre in Cholsan county, North Pyongan province in North Korea. (KCNA VIA KNS/ AFP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seoul - North Korea's recent rocket launch amounted to the test of a ballistic missile capable of carrying a half-ton payload over 10 000km, the South Korean defence ministry said on Sunday.

North Korea launched its three-stage Unha-3 rocket on 12 December, insisting it was a purely scientific mission aimed at putting a polar-orbiting satellite in space.

Sunday's estimate was based on analysis of an oxidiser container - recovered from the rocket's first-stage splashdown site - which stored red fuming nitric acid to fuel the first-stage propellant.

"Based on our analysis and simulation, the missile is capable of flying more than 10 000km with a warhead of 500-600kg," a defence ministry official told reporters.

Without any debris from the second and third stages to analyse, the official said it could not be determined if the rocket had re-entry capability - a key element of inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) technology.

Most of the world saw the North's rocket launch as a disguised ballistic missile test that violates UN resolutions imposed after Pyongyang conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

The success of the launch was seen as a major strategic step forward for the isolated North, although missile experts differed on the level of ballistic capability demonstrated by the rocket.

The debris collected by the South Koreans was made of an alloy of aluminium and magnesium with eight panels welded manually.

"Welding was crude, done manually," the ministry official said, adding that oxidiser containers for storing toxic chemicals are rarely used by countries with advanced space technology.

The South's navy later recovered three more pieces of the rocket - a fuel tank, a combustion chamber and an engine connection rod - from the Yellow Sea and has been analysing them since Friday, Yonhap news agency said on Sunday.

"As the additional pieces are salvaged, we will be able to look deeper into the function and structure of North Korea's long-range rocket," said a defence ministry official quoted by Yonhap.

Read more on:    south korea  |  north korea  |  north korea nuclear programme

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

The Leo moon adds an element of drama and entertainment. A significant person that you may consult or confide in may play more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.