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North Korea tested missile rocket: report

July 25, 2011 Comments off

spacewar

North Korea last year tested a rocket to carry long-range missiles in an apparent attempt to showcase its weapons capability to the United States, a report said Sunday.

The communist state conducted the rocket engine test at the new Tongchang-ri missile base on the west coast in October, Yonhap news agency said, citing a senior Seoul official.

“We believed that the test, carried out at an hour when the US military satellite could detect it, was aimed at showcasing its missile threats,” Yonhap quoted the official as saying.

Satellite images taken in January showed that North Korea had completed a launch tower at the Tongchang-ri missile base, which was bigger and more advanced than the older Musudan-ri base on the east coast.

The North launched long-range missiles at Musudan-ri in 1998, 2006 and 2009, sending its Taepodong-2 missile to land some 3,200 kilometres (2,000 miles) in the Pacific in April 2009.

Analysts said the new base in Tongchang-ri, whose construction was believed to be almost complete, was seen as a key in the North’s quest for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICMB) that could possibly strike the United States.

The North has started to build new railways to transport materials needed to complete the new base, said the official quoted by Yonhap, adding Seoul saw no immediate signs that the North was about to launch long-range missiles at the site.

Seoul intelligence believe that the North’s Taepodong-2 missile, whose maximum range is estimated at 6,700 kilometres, could reach the US west coast within about 20 minutes if successfully launched at the new base, Yonhap said.