North Korea says it tested new solid-fuel engines for intermediate-range ballistic missiles

by Gabriel Martinez
North Korea missile tests

North Korea recently announced that it has conducted successful tests of new solid-fuel engines for its intermediate-range ballistic missiles. This development is part of its ongoing efforts to create nuclear weapons that can target regional adversaries. The tests of the first and second-stage missile engines were conducted last Saturday and Tuesday, as reported by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), though the completion date for the new missile system remains unspecified.

The country’s current intermediate-range missiles, such as the Hwasong-12, which could potentially reach Guam, a U.S. Pacific territory, utilize liquid-fuel engines. These engines require pre-launch fueling and cannot remain fueled for extended periods. In contrast, missiles equipped with solid propellants are quicker to launch, easier to transport and hide, thus making them less detectable and reducing the chances of a preemptive strike by adversaries.

KCNA described the tests as critical for enhancing North Korea’s strategic offensive capabilities amid a “grave and unstable security environment” and increasing military hostility and collaboration among its enemies.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has escalated weapon demonstrations, including simulated nuclear attacks on South Korea, and has authorized preemptive nuclear strikes if North Korea’s leadership feels threatened. In response, South Korea is intensifying its joint military exercises with the U.S., seeking stronger assurances of U.S. nuclear protection against potential North Korean nuclear attacks.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik recently updated their bilateral security agreement, focusing on countering North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats. The agreement confirms U.S. commitment to using its full military capabilities, including nuclear, for South Korea’s defense.

Earlier this year, North Korea unveiled the Hwasong-18, its first solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. However, analysts believe North Korea still faces technological challenges in developing a fully operational nuclear arsenal threatening the U.S.

Despite testing ICBMs at high angles to avoid neighboring territories, it is unclear if North Korea has mastered the technology for its warheads to survive atmospheric reentry and accurately hit targets.

Amidst these developments, there are concerns about North Korea’s potential arms collaboration with Russia. South Korean intelligence suggests North Korea may have sent artillery shells to Russia, which both countries deny. Concurrently, Russia’s natural resources minister, Alexander Kozlov, is visiting North Korea, indicating growing diplomatic ties and discussions on trade, science, and technology, as reported by KCNA and The Big Big News.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about North Korea missile tests

What did North Korea recently announce regarding its missile program?

North Korea announced successful tests of new solid-fuel engines for intermediate-range ballistic missiles, as part of its efforts to enhance its nuclear weapons capabilities.

How do solid-fuel engines differ from North Korea’s existing missile technology?

Solid-fuel engines enable quicker launch readiness and are easier to transport and conceal compared to the liquid-fuel engines used in North Korea’s existing intermediate-range missiles like the Hwasong-12.

What has been the international response to North Korea’s recent missile tests?

The tests have heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, with South Korea responding by expanding military exercises with the United States and seeking stronger U.S. nuclear protection assurances.

Has North Korea successfully developed an intercontinental ballistic missile?

North Korea has unveiled the Hwasong-18, a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, but analysts believe it still faces technological hurdles to have a fully operational nuclear arsenal capable of threatening the U.S.

Are there concerns about North Korea’s international arms collaborations?

Yes, there are concerns about a potential arms alignment with Russia, where North Korea might provide munitions for Russia’s war in Ukraine in exchange for technology to enhance its nuclear program. Both countries, however, deny these allegations.

More about North Korea missile tests

  • North Korea’s Missile Development
  • Solid-Fuel vs. Liquid-Fuel Missiles
  • Regional Tensions in the Korean Peninsula
  • Hwasong-18 and ICBM Technology
  • North Korea-Russia Military Collaboration Concerns

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TechGuy November 15, 2023 - 9:48 am

Solid-fuel is a big deal, much quicker to launch. Wonder how far they’ve really got with the tech though.

SarahJ November 15, 2023 - 11:14 am

It’s all politics and power plays as usual. I mean, do they really need more missiles? The tensions in the region are already high enough!

Mike87 November 15, 2023 - 12:22 pm

wow, North Korea’s really stepping up their game with these solid-fuel missiles huh? kinda scary if you ask me…

HistoryBuff November 16, 2023 - 12:04 am

Reminds me of the cold war era, all this talk of nuclear capabilities and ICBMs. We never learn from history, do we.

PeaceDove November 16, 2023 - 1:14 am

When will countries learn that more weapons don’t mean more peace? It’s just a never-ending cycle of fear and aggression.


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