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North Korea develops solid-fueled rocket engine

Posted December. 17, 2022 07:19,   

Updated December. 17, 2022 07:19


North Korea said it has successfully tested a solid-fueled rocket motor that can be mounted on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). With the regime’s success in test-firing Hwasong-17 last month, a “monster ICBM” that would have the range to reach all of the U.S. mainland, the announcement comes as a real missile threat. It would be a huge threat to Korea and the U.S. as the engine, if as powerful as the North claims, appears to have a larger thrust than the U.S.-based Minuteman-III ICBM, which is one of the top three nuclear weapons in the U.S.

The North's Academy of Defence Science succeeded in the "static firing test of high-thrust solid-fuel motor" with a thrust of 140 ton-force at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground on Thursday morning, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Friday. Leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the test.” It provided a firm scientific and technological guarantee over the development of another new-type strategic weapon system,” the state news media added.

Solid-fueled rockets have a low risk of being exposed to U.S. reconnaissance satellites as they can be launched right after being loaded in missiles. The liquid-fueled ones take at least 30 minutes to several hours to fuel.

If solid fuels are used, ICBMs can be on a transporter erector launcher in advance, which gives an advantage for sudden attacks. “It would take more time to verify the North’s claim,” a South Korean high-ranking official said. “If the claim turns out to be true, Seoul and Washington will need a totally different approach to respond to this situation as Pyongyang gained the heart for ICBMs, which can even hit the United States.”

Some say the North could carry out its seventh nuclear test after test-firing solid-fueled Hwasong-17. “Expectation that another new-type strategic weapon would be made in the shortest span of time,” the North Korean leader said after overseeing the test.

Jin-Woo Shin niceshin@donga.com