Missile experts see Soviet parts in North Korean rocket

With concerns rising about a possible North Korean long-range missile test, two independent scientists say the regime may be using an old Soviet ballistic missile to boost a rocket capable of reaching the West Coast of the United States. The design of a long-range missile tested last April "represents a very significant advance in rocket technology," said Ted Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists, both Ploughshares grantees, in a June 29 assessment published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Using data and imagery from North Korea's April 4 launch, Postol and Wright calculated that the second stage of the North Korean rocket had the external dimensions, engine power and key features of an SS-N 6, a Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile first deployed in 1968. Geoffrey Forden, another Ploughshares grantee, sees merit in the Russian missile theory and believes North Korea may have its own production line for SS-N 6 missile components.

Associated Press