N. Korea says it tested high-thrust solid-fuel engine to develop new strategic weapon

SEOUL– North Korea has successfully conducted a test to verify the “high-thrust solid-fuel motor” features in developing another “new-type strategic weapon system,” according to its state media Friday.

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 in an English-language report.

The KCNA said the “important test,” the first of its kind in the country, has provided a “sure sci-tech guarantee” for the development of another new strategic weapons system.
Observers said the North could have tested the high-thrust engine to advance technologies for developing a new solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Solid-fueled ICBMs are known to be simpler and faster to launch than the liquid-based ones that the North has tested previously, making the U.S. and South Korean militaries harder to detect them. Pyongyang has been seeking to develop solid-propellant engines to gain greater mobility for its missiles.

The engine, if as powerful as the North claims, appears to have a larger thrust than the U.S.-based Minuteman-III ICBM, known to produce around 80 ton-force in the first of the three-stage motor.

It is also comparable to the North’s Hwasong-17 ICBM that uses two twin-chamber liquid rocket engines clustered in the first stage, creating a thrust of around 160 ton-force.

During the “field guidance,” Kim also highly praised officials at the Academy of Defence Science for having “successfully solved another important problem” in achieving the top priority tasks under a five-year plan set forth at the Workers’ Party congress in January last year.

At the party congress, the North laid out plans to advance its weapons, including developing tactical nuclear weapons, hypersonic gliding flight warheads, nuclear-powered submarines and reconnaissance satellites, among others.

Pyongyang has conducted an unprecedented number of ballistic missile launches this year, including last month’s test-firing of the Hwasong-17 ICBM, amid growing concerns it may carry out a nuclear test in the coming weeks or months.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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