Pyongyang, June 28: A monitoring group called '38 North' has confirmed that North Korea has tested a small rocket engine on 22 June. A US official has allegedly suggested that the test could be a step to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The reputed 38 North analysis group informed that it was not clear whether the test, conducted at the North’s Sohae satellite launch site, involved an ICBM (Intercontinental ballistic missile) engine. They said, “this test could be for the smallest stage of an ICBM rocket engine”.
The 38 North confirmed that the test has a widespread, but minor, damage to vegetation surrounding the base of the test stand where rocket engine exhaust is directed during tests. The minor damage directs that the recently conducted test was a relatively small engine.
The system cannot determine whether the engine test was for the smallest stage of an ICBM rocket engine or some other system from the single imagery. Around the test stand, no vehicles or personnel were observed.
Recent damage to vegetation and scarring from vehicular traffic observed in North Korea, Image Courtesy: 38north.org
The Institute also stated that the previous satellite image of June 10 inducted no signs of test preparation. This means that North Korea possesses the technical and logistical capabilities to conduct such tests with little or no advance warning, it added.
According to an earlier statement, the North Koreans have undertaken a construction project located approximately 50 meters southeast of the launch pad since March 2017. The satellite image of June 22 showed that as what appears to be building footings and the beginnings of walls are evident. The planned purpose of the new structure is unknown, however, its proximity to the launch pad suggests it will likely be used to support launch operations.
38 North is a website devoted to analysis about North Korea; it is a program of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and is managed by former U.S. Department of State official Joel S. Wit and USKI Assistant Director Jenny Town.