North Korea says missile ready for mass-production
PYONGYANGNorth Korea said yesterday that it had successfully tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile which met all technical requirements and could now be mass-produced, indicating advances in its ambitions to be able to hit the United States.
The North fired the missile into waters off its east coast on Sunday, its second missile test in a week, which South Korea said dashed the hopes of the South’s new liberal government under President Moon Jae-in for peace between the neighbors.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test of the Pukguksong-2, which confirmed reliable late-stage guidance of the warhead and the functioning of a solid-fuel engine, the KCNA state news agency said.
It quoted Kim as saying the Pukguksong-2 met all the required technical specifications so should now be mass-produced and deployed to the Korean People’s Army strategic battle unit.
Pyongyang has defied all calls to rein in its nuclear and missile programs, even from China, its lone major ally, saying the weapons are needed for defense against U.S. aggression.
The U.N. Security Council is due to meet today behind closed doors to discuss the latest test, which defies Security Council resolutions and sanctions, at the request of the United States, Japan and South Korea, diplomats said on May 21.
The test could also alter the dynamics of Moon’s plan to review a controversial deployment of the THAAD U.S. anti-missile system in the South that is angrily opposed by China, which sees its powerful radar as a threat to its security.
“Saying with pride that the missile’s rate of hits is very accurate and Pukguksong-2 is a successful strategic weapon, he approved the deployment of this weapon system for action,” KCNA said, quoting Kim.
The launch verified the reliability and accuracy of the solid-fuel engine’s operation and stage separation and the late-stage guidance of the nuclear warhead which was recorded by a device mounted on the warhead, KCNA said.
“Viewing the images of the Earth being sent real-time from the camera mounted on the ballistic missile, Supreme leader Kim Jong Un said it feels grand to look at the Earth from the rocket we launched and the entire world looks so beautiful,” KCNA said.
The use of solid fuel presents advantages for weapons because the fuel is more stable and can be transported easily in the missile’s tank allowing for a launch at very short notice.
The Pukguksong-2 flew about 500 kilometers, South Korea’s military said.
The South’s military said the test provided more “meaningful data” for the North’s missile program but whether the North mastered the re-entry technology for the warhead needs additional analysis.
The reclusive state has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland and on Saturday said it had developed the capability, although Western missile experts say the claim is exaggerated.
Some experts believe it will be 2030 or later for the North to develop the technology. But KCNA said last week’s missile test put Hawaii and Alaska within range.
North Korea regularly threatens to destroy the United States which it accuses of preparing for invasion. South Korea hosts 28,500 U.S. troops to counter the threat from the North, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.