Images Suggest N. Korea Tested Long-Range Rocket Engine

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Sept. 23, 2013, 7:02 a.m.

Re­cently taken sur­veil­lance satel­lite pho­to­graphs sug­gest that North Korea in late Au­gust tested an en­gine for one of its long-range rock­ets, ac­cord­ing to a Monday ana­lys­is by the ex­pert web­site 38 North.

The be­lief that a new test was car­ried out at the Dongchang-ri mis­sile launch com­plex is pre­dic­ated upon a num­ber of factors “in­clud­ing the pres­ence of a prob­able rock­et stage, a crane ne­ces­sary to mount and re­move the rock­et en­gine and pro­pel­lant tanks on the test stand, in­stru­ment­a­tion used to mon­it­or tests as well as changes in the ap­pear­ance of ve­get­a­tion in front of the flame trench [from green to brown] and in­stead the flame trench,” reads the ana­lys­is by im­age ex­pert Nick Hansen.

38 North said it could not de­term­ine which type of en­gine was tested. North Korea is de­vel­op­ing sev­er­al dif­fer­ent kinds of rock­ets, in­clud­ing the Unha 3 that can be ad­ap­ted to act as ICBMs. The coun­try car­ried out its first suc­cess­ful long-range rock­et launch last Decem­ber, clear­ing an im­port­ant hurdle in the march to­ward a cred­ible in­ter­con­tin­ent­al-bal­list­ic mis­sile.

Mean­while, Chinese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi at a Fri­day for­um in Wash­ing­ton in­sisted Py­ongy­ang is “ready to come back to” a Septem­ber 2005 joint state­ment with the United States, which would com­mit North Korea to gradu­ally shut­ter­ing its nuc­le­ar-weapons pro­grams in ex­change for phased in­fu­sions of for­eign eco­nom­ic as­sist­ance and in­ter­na­tion­al se­cur­ity guar­an­tees, Ky­odo News re­por­ted. He said his coun­try also is pre­pared to re­turn to a Feb­ru­ary 2012 agree­ment with Wash­ing­ton in which Py­ongy­ang agreed to im­ple­ment a morator­i­um on nuc­le­ar weapons test­ing and the en­rich­ment of urani­um in re­turn for U.S. food as­sist­ance.

Beijing has been push­ing for a re­turn to form­al aid-for-de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion ne­go­ti­ations with Py­ongy­ang. However, oth­er par­ti­cipants in the frozen six-na­tion pro­cess — namely South Korea, the United States and Ja­pan — have said they do not see any point in hold­ing new talks right now as North Korea has not shown any will­ing­ness to stop its nuc­le­ar weapons de­vel­op­ment.

One­time head U.S. nuc­le­ar ne­go­ti­at­or to North Korea, Chris­toph­er Hill, in an in­ter­view with the Yon­hap News Agency said even though the North has not shown any in­terest in stop­ping its nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies, the United States has no oth­er choice but to en­gage with Py­ongy­ang.

Sep­ar­ately, China on Monday pub­lished a 236-page list of names of “dual-use tech­no­lo­gies” that it will not sell to North Korea as they could po­ten­tially be ad­ap­ted for use de­vel­op­ing weapons of mass de­struc­tion, Re­u­ters re­por­ted. The list con­tains a num­ber of dan­ger­ous patho­gens such as Ebola as well as products that might be used to con­struct and fuel atom­ic re­act­ors.

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