US may be in missile range, say S Korean officials

Last updated 20:49 23/12/2012

Relevant offers

Asia

Australian woman dies in Bali scooter crash, days after posting video riding without a helmet Four of China's 'most wanted' for corruption believed to be hiding in Auckland Australian woman dies after Bali scooter crash Trekker found alive after 47 days missing on Nepal mountain Donald Trump's travel ban plays into the hands of extremists - David Cameron Chinese court sentences US citizen to jail for espionage Charge Rodrigo Duterte with mass murder, lawyer tells The Hague China will lead wind power growth over next five years US military begins moving THAAD missile defence to South Korea site Thai man broadcasts daughter's murder live on Facebook

This month's rocket launch by reclusive North Korea shows it has likely developed the technology to fire a warhead more than 10,000 km, South Korean officials say, putting the United States' west coast in range.

North Korea said the December 12 launch put a weather satellite in orbit but critics say it was aimed at nurturing the kind of technology needed to mount a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile.

North Korea is banned from testing missile or nuclear technology under United Nations sanctions imposed after its 2006 and 2009 nuclear weapons tests and the UN Security Council condemned the launch.

South Korea retrieved and analysed parts of the first-stage rocket that dropped in the waters off its west coast.

"As a result of analysing the material of Unha-3 (North Korea's rocket), we judged North Korea had secured a range of more than 10,000 km in case the warhead is 500-600 kg," a South Korean Defence Ministry official told a news briefing.

North Korea's previous missile tests ended in failure.

North Korea, which denounces the United States as the mother of all warmongers on an almost daily basis, has spent decades and scarce resources to try to develop technology capable of striking targets as far away as the United States and it is also working to build a nuclear arsenal.

But experts believe the North is still years away from mastering the technology needed to miniaturise a nuclear bomb to mount on a missile.

South Korean defence officials also said there was no confirmation whether the North had the re-entry technology needed for a payload to survive the heat and vibration without disintegrating.

Despite international condemnation, the launch this month was seen as a major boost domestically to the credibility of the North's young leader, Kim Jong-un, who took over power from his father who died last year.

Apparently encouraged by the euphoria, the fledgling supreme leader called for the development and launching of "a variety of more working satellites" and "carrier rockets of bigger capacity" at a banquet in Pyongyang on Friday which he hosted for those who contributed to the lift-off, according to North Korean state media.

Ad Feedback

- Reuters

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content