North Korean Rocket Debris Shows 'Iran Connection'

But analysts see little evidence of nuclear capability
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2012 2:35 PM CST
In this undated photo, a part of debris from a rocket North Korea launched on Dec. 12, 2012 is seen on a South Korean navy vessel in the Yellow Sea, South Korea.   (AP Photo/South Korea Defense Ministry)
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(Newser) – Judging by the remains of North Korea's new long-range rocket, Pyongyang was aided by Iran but isn't much closer to launching a nuclear missile, the New York Times reports. South Korean officials and intelligence officers described what they learned by following the rocket's flight data and combing through debris found off the coast of South Korea. A military intelligence official said the rocket's oxidizer tank—which propelled the missile with red fuming nitric acid—was "crude" and "done by hand," and indicated an "Iran connection" in Pyongyang's missile program.

The launch marked an advance for North Korea—which put a rocket into orbit for the first time—but analysts found no evidence of "re-entry" technology that would ensure the survival of a warhead re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. What's more, they doubt the North has developed technology to miniaturize and mount a nuclear bomb on a rocket. But Pyongyang considered it a great success, and leader Kim Jong-un held a banquet for the 101 technicians and scientists who developed the rocket, according to state media. (One op-ed yawned over the launch, while another slammed President Obama for not shooting it down.)

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