Seoul, South Korea – North Korea has the ability to fire a rocket more than 10,000km (6,200 miles), according to a new study by officials in South Korea.
The findings were reported after experts in Seoul inspected missile debris recovered from North Korea’s recent rocket launch. The estimate means North Korea could potentially strike the western coast of the US.
However, the totalitarian state is still lacking the re-entry technology required to deliver a missile, and many experts say North Korea is a number of years away from being able to mount a nuclear bomb on a missile.
It is widely suspected in South Korea that the North does not possess the guidance systems to launch an intercontinental ballistic strike. Experts point out that many more rocket and nuclear tests will be required before North Korea can successfully manufacture a warhead small enough to attach to its rockets.
Speaking Saturday, a defence ministry official in Seoul told reporters:
“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 10,000km in case the warhead is 500 – 600kg.”
The official added that the type of oxidiser container discovered from the first stage of the rocket launch would rarely be used by countries with advanced space technology, and described the welding on the rocket debris as “crude, done manually.”
Once experts in Seoul analyse debris from the second and third stages of the rocket launch, it will be known whether or not the North has the technology to achieve re-entry. The defence ministry official said:
“As the additional pieces are salvaged, we will be able to look deeper into the function and structure of North Korea’s long-range rocket.”
As for North Korea, the hermit state still insists that the latest rocket is merely part of a civilian space program. The successful launch was celebrated with an extravagant mass rally in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.