December 10, 2019 12:54
South Korean military intelligence on Monday concluded tentatively that North Korea's "very important test" in Tongchang-ri near the Chinese border last week was of a new liquid-fuel engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The engine is most likely intended for a modified version of the Hwasong-15 ICBM.
The South Korean military is keeping a close watch on the North to see whether it will launch an ICBM disguised as a space rocket as a shot across the bow of the U.S.
Military sources here said the North considers the test a success.
Jeffrey Lewis, an expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, backed up the assessment citing satellite images.
"Vehicles and objects appear on [Dec. 7] to conduct the test. They are mostly gone on [Dec. 8], but the ground appears to have been disturbed by the exhaust from the test," he tweeted on Monday.
That is a typical sign of combustion after a thrust test of a liquid-fuel engine.
Shin Jong-woo at the Korea Defense and Security Forum said, "A solid-fuel engine would be too big" for a test at the North's Tongchang-ri site because it is normally tested with the engine attached to a fueled-up rocket."
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