Saturday 29 April 2017

New missile threat as North Korea crows about rocket launch

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un celebrates with his entourage after the test of a new high-thrust engine that could power a missile Photo: KCNA/via Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un celebrates with his entourage after the test of a new high-thrust engine that could power a missile Photo: KCNA/via Reuters

Eric Talmadge

North Korea has tested a new type of high-thrust rocket engine that leader Kim Jong Un is calling a breakthrough for his space programme, but which the US fears could be used for military purposes.

Kim attended the test at the Sohae launch site, according to the Korean Central News Agency, which said the test was intended to confirm the "new type" of engine's thrust power and gauge the reliability of its control system and structural safety.

Kim called the test "a great event of historic significance" for his rocket industry.

He also said the "whole world will soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries" and claimed the test marks what will be known as the "March 18 revolution" in the development of the country's rocket industry.

North Korea is banned by the UN from conducting long-range missile tests, but it claims its satellite program is for peaceful use, a claim many in the US and elsewhere believe is questionable.

North Korean officials have said that under a five-year plan, they intend to launch more Earth observation satellites and what would be the country's first geostationary communications satellite - which would be a major technological advance.

The ground jet test of the high-thrust engine Photo: KCNA/via Reuters
The ground jet test of the high-thrust engine Photo: KCNA/via Reuters

Getting that kind of satellite into place would require a more powerful engine than its previous ones. The North also claims it is trying to build a viable space programme that would include a moon launch within 10 years.

Irish Independent

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