North Korean Rocket Had Foreign Parts

The South Korean government retrieved the Unha-3 rocket launched by North Korea on December 12, 2012 from the Yellow Sea. While most of the manufacturing was done inside North Korea, officials have determined six to ten parts came from five additional countries. 

The South Korean government retrieved the Unha-3 rocket launched by North Korea on December 12, 2012 from the Yellow Sea. While most of the manufacturing was done inside North Korea, officials have determined six to ten parts came from five additional countries. 

The Hankyoreh reports South Korea’s Ministry of Defense, along with US investigators, has determined that the foreign parts would have been easy to buy, even by someone who was traveling. Yonhao News Agency reports non-core parts, such as a temperature detector, direct-current conversion equipment and a pressure sensor were produced in China and some European nations. None of the foreign components used are restricted by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1874, which was passed in 2009, or the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense may investigate further into what companies sold these components have business directly with North Korea. 

South Korean officials found that the North Korean Unha-3 is designed differently than the comparable South Korean Naro space launch vehicle. The Unha-3 has three boosters to the Naro’s two. The Unha-3 has its main engine fixed in place, with four additional engines that rotate to steer. The engine system on the Naro moves to steer itself. Officials conclude that the Unha-3 engine is based on Rodong missile technology developed in the 1990s. This engine design is similar to that in Iran’s long-range missile and different from that in China’s long-range nuclear missile, the Dong Feng 31.

The conclusion thus far – South Korean and US investigators believe the Unha-3 design is much improved and has the capability to fly more than 10,000 kilometers. This puts the United States in range, although it is unlikely that the North Korean re-entry technology necessary to deliver the missile has been developed. The satellite that the North Koreans launched into space last month is positioned in geostationary orbit but is not functioning.

molly

Image: The Unha-3 courtesy of the Hankyorey

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