In a briefing held following a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday South Korean lawmakers made it clear North Korea had NOT fired inter-continental ballistic missiles from transporter erector launchers, or TEL for short.
The remarks follow some controversy surrounding North Korea's missile capabilities after Blue House National Security Director Chung Eui-yong's statement in a hearing earlier this month where he claimed that the North is not capable of firing ICBMs from TELs.
"While Chung's comments may not be far from the truth the controversy overshadows the more important issue of whether North Korea has completed tech development related to solid-fuel missiles so it doesn’t have to rely on liquid fuel for its ICBMs."
Liquid-fuel is more risky to use compared to solid-fuel since it's easier to detect while fueling.
To pour in liquid-fuel, the missile needs to be erected upright and according to a South Korean military source this is cited as one of the main reasons why the North is using TELs before transferring the missiles to immobile missile launchers.
According to Chung's remarks, it's believed the North is not capable of striking the U.S. with nuclear-equipped ICBMs without being detected but according to experts North Korea's application of solid-fuel technology could be only a matter of time.
"North Korea can develop the technology in several years if it really wants to. The North's Pukguksong-2 missile uses solid-fuel and it has already revealed in the past in its military parade an ICBM that presumably operates on solid-fuel."
It took France some 40 years to develop solid-fuel missiles into ICBMs but it could take North Korea a shorter period since the North has already acquired the basic technology.
Last month, the North tested a newly developed submarine-launched ballistic missile, the Pukguksong-3, that utilizes solid-fuel technology which boasts greater propulsion, smaller resistance and is lighter than liquid-fuel missiles.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.