Bloomberg / Bloomberg via Getty Images
SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea said it made its first successful launch of a solid-fuel rocket on Wednesday in what it called a major move toward acquiring a space surveillance capability amid growing hostility to rival North Korea.
The launch came six days after North Korea conducted its first intercontinental ballistic missile test since 2017 in a blatant attempt to expand its weapons arsenal and increase pressure on the Biden administration amid stalled negotiations.
South Korea’s domestically built rocket with solid propellant was fired from a state-run test facility in the presence of Defense Minister Suh Wook and other senior officials, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
It said solid fuel rockets have simpler structures and are cheaper to develop and manufacture than liquid fuel rockets. It said solid fuel rockets also reduce launch times. The statement said South Korea would soon launch an orbiting spy satellite aboard a solid-fuel rocket.
South Korea does not currently have its own military reconnaissance satellite and relies on US spy satellites to monitor strategic facilities in North Korea.
By 2020, South Korea won the U.S. consent to use solid fuel for spacecraft, a constraint that Washington had previously imposed on its main Asian ally out of concern that its use could lead to larger missiles and trigger a regional arms race.
Wednesday’s launch came amid tensions over North Korea’s ICBM launch last Thursday, which broke its own moratorium on major arms tests and violated several UN Security Council resolutions.
South Korea’s defense ministry concluded earlier this week that North Korea fired the Hwasong-15 ICBM, rather than the newer, larger, longer-range Hwasong-17 that North Korea claimed to have tested.
“Coming at a very serious time following North Korea’s lifting of the moratorium on arms tests, and this successful test launch of the solid fuel lift vessel is an important milestone in our military’s efforts to (build) a unilateral space-based surveillance system and strengthen defense capabilities,” it said. South Korean statement.
Rival Korea has continued to divide along a heavily fortified border since its split at the end of World War II in 1945. To cope with North Korea’s growing nuclear threats, South Korea has built and purchased powerful conventional missiles, stealth fighters and other high-tech weapon systems. But South Korea has no nuclear weapons, and it is under the protection of the US “nuclear umbrella”, which guarantees a devastating US response in the event of an attack on its allies.
South Korea has a key missile launch, a few days after the North’s ICBM test: NPR
Source link South Korea has a key missile launch, a few days after the North’s ICBM test: NPR