N Korean Missile Test: 'Big Progress in Developing ICBMs' or Failed Attempt?



The North Korean missile launch on Sunday reportedly involved a KN-17 medium-range ballistic missile. 

Sputnik spoke with Kim Dongyeop, professor of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University in South Korea, who said that the recent launch was not exactly a success.

The missile that was launched on May 14 flew at a maximum altitude of 2,111.5 km, and the launch range was 787 km. 

The missile that was launched last year, a rocket named Musudan, reached a height of only 1,412 km.

According to the expert, if we take into account that the atmosphere starts at a height of 1,000 km above the ground, it turns out that the recent missile made a return entry into the atmosphere.

“However, medium- and long-range missiles of 6,000-10,000 km have a much higher maximum altitude and, in contrast to Musudan, can withstand return into the atmosphere even at very high temperatures, pressure and vibration range,” the Dongyeaop said.

Such missiles can accelerate up to Mach 23-25, which is much faster than Musudan missiles and in this case the detonator will only work if it doesn’t overheat. 

For missiles like Musudan, overheating can occur at 3,000-4,000 degrees Celsius.

“It has been confirmed that in the case of short-range missiles, the detonators are protected by a protective outer covering, but in the case of North Korean missiles with a range of 6,000-7,000 km, there is no such confirmation,” Dongyeop said.

“This time the altitude was very high and the engine performed quite well, which confirms the great progress in the development of ICBMs. 

However, it is possible to judge the success in this case only if there is an explosion in the air,” the expert concluded.

On Sunday, North Korea launched a missile near Kusong near the country’s western coast. The missile fell in the Sea of Japan after flying some 500 miles.

A number of countries, including the United States, Japan and South Korea, criticized North Korea for conducting the latest missile launch.

According to the Yonhap News Agency, North Korea said it had launched the Hwasong-12 missile, which had reached an altitude of 2,111 kilometers (1,311 miles) and flown 787 kilometers (489 miles).

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended the site of the test-fire of the new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic missile, the Hwasong-12, on Sunday.

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