SEOUL – The North Korean regime published on Thursday a large gallery of photographs of the new intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-15 test launch on Nov. 29 under the supervision of the North Korean leader.
State-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun published 42 images which show the preparation for the launch and the missile during its ascent, in addition to a smiling Kim Jong-un observing the whole process both outdoors and from a control room.
Very “excited” and “satisfied” with the successful development of the new Hwasong-15 (“Mars-15” in English), the North Korean leader “warmly congratulated” the scientists, technicians and other workers involved in the process, Rodong Sinmun reported.
The photos unveil that the Hwasong-15 is a missile of larger dimensions with a bigger rounded tip compared to the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched earlier by Pyongyang.
Analysts said the difference in size and configuration of the Hwasong-15 model shows that the missile has two, instead of one, engines and has more auxiliary propellants, which could give it greater stability and reach.
The new warhead design could allow it the ability to carry more than one nuclear warhead.
The large size of the Hwasong-15 has also made it necessary to use a transporter erector launcher (TEL) with 18 wheels (the Hwasong-14 used the 16-wheel model), which, according to North Korean media, has been manufactured in the country, although it is believed that it could be a modified Chinese model.
North Korea had announced that the missile could carry super-heavy nuclear warhead and reach the whole mainland of the US, after confirming that it flew 950 kilometers (590 miles) and reached an altitude of 4,475 kilometers before falling into the Sea of Japan.
Even though North Korea claimed its missile could have traveled more than 13,000 kilometers, analysts doubt that the Hwasong-15 would be able to reach that distance if equipped with a nuclear warhead or survive atmospheric reentry without disintegrating, according to an analysis in a web portal 38 North.
The Pyongyang regime broke a two-and-a-half-month hiatus of weapons tests with Wednesday’s launch, the 20th this year.