By Yujiro Okabe / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent SEOUL — North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on Thursday released photos of Wednesday’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by Pyongyang.
The photos suggest the recently launched Hwasong-15 ICBM is larger than its predecessor Hwasong-14 model, indicating the possibility that the latest missile was equipped with a technologically advanced engine.
Some of the photos also show the Hwasong-15’s deployment process, from its departure on a mobile launcher from a facility appearing to be a missile factory to the moment it was fired.
According to Radiopress Inc., Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Workers’ Party of Korea, also reported the details of the latest test in its Wednesday issue. It ran 48 pictures, including a photo of Party Chairman Kim Jong Un watching the launch.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on Thursday morning described to the House of Councillors Budget Committee the results of an analysis of North Korea’s latest ICBM test launch.
“We believe it is a new ICBM model and different from the Hwasong-14 that was test-fired in July,” Onodera said.
According to Onodera, analysts have concluded from the released images that the Hwasong-15 was a new model because the mobile launcher had nine wheel axles and the wheel hubs appeared to be rounder than those of past models. The launchpad used to test-fire the Hwasong-14 had eight wheel axles.
The latest model is a two-stage missile powered by liquid fuel. Onodera said it was “a highly advanced ballistic missile.”
Also on Thursday, the South Korean Army’s joint chiefs of staff released its initial analysis on the launch, saying there was an obvious difference between the Hwasong-15 and Hwasong-14 and confirming the latest missile to be a new model, not an upgrade of a previous model.
The KCNA reported Wednesday that the engine movement’s accuracy and the technical reliability of the warhead upon re-entry into the atmosphere had both been confirmed. It emphasized the success of the launch and that North Korea’s nuclear capabilities were now “complete.” Speech