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S. Korea Says N. Korea Rocket Debris Shows Possible Missile Test

North Korea’s rocket launch earlier this month was a possible test of technology for an intercontinental ballistic missile, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said after analyzing debris from the rocket.

“North Korea’s long-range missile used existing missile technologies,” the ministry said in a statement on a government briefing website today. North Korea “used red-fuming nitric acid as an oxidizer unlike other space rockets using liquid oxygen.” The rocket is estimated to have a range of more than 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles), according to the website.

North Korea launched the rocket on Dec. 12, saying it successfully placed a satellite into orbit, in defiance of international sanctions and showcasing the nuclear-armed totalitarian regime’s progress in ballistic missile technology.

South Korean military officials recovered part of the rocket debris in waters off the west of the country and analyzed it from Dec. 14 to Dec. 18 with 42 experts involved, according to today’s statement.

Red-fuming nitric acid was used for Nodong and Scud missiles by the former Soviet Union, and it can be stored in normal temperature and is very toxic, the Defense Ministry said.

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