SEOUL, South Korea — The intercontinental ballistic missile North Korea launched this week was a new type of missile bigger and more powerful than any the country had tested before, South Korean officials said on Thursday.
Photos from the North’s official Korean Central News Agency are providing valuable clues about the capabilities of the missile, named the Hwasong-15. North Korea said it carried a “super-large heavy warhead which is capable of striking the whole mainland of the U.S.”
朝鲜官方通讯社朝中社(Korean Central News Agency)发布的照片，提供了有关这枚名为“火星-15”(Hwasong-15)导弹性能的宝贵线索。朝鲜称其搭载了一枚“能够打击美国本土全域的超大型重型核弹头”。
North Korea’s Hwasong series represents the most successful and formidable part of its ballistic missile arsenal, and photographs of the test suggested improvements over the Hwasong-14, a missile first tested over the summer that showed the country’s capacity to strike the continental United States.
Korean Central News Agency
“We believe this is a new type of missile,” said Roh Jae-cheon, a spokesman for the South Korean military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. “It looks clearly different from the Hwasong-14 in the external looks of its nose cone, the linkage between its first and second stages, and its overall size.”
South Korean officials said the launch suggested that North Korea’s missile program was advancing faster than previously believed.
Private analysts agreed that the Hwasong-15 looked bigger and more powerful than the Hwasong-14.
Kim Dong-yub, a defense analyst at the Seoul-based Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said North Korea appeared to have built the Hwasong-15 by upgrading the second stage of the Hwasong-14, which carries the missile through space after the first-stage booster drops off.
设在首尔的远东研究所(Institute for Far Eastern Studies)国防分析师金东烨（Kim Dong-yub，音）说，朝鲜似乎是通过改进“火星-14”的第二级制造出了“火星-15”。在第一级助推器脱落后，正是第二级携带导弹在太空中飞行。
Mr. Kim also reported an important discovery: He said the Hwasong-15 appeared to have two engines for its first booster stage, giving the new missile greater range than previous models.
Tal Inbar, head of space research at Israel’s Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, agreed in a message on Twitter.
以色列费舍尔航空航天战略研究所(Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies)所长塔尔·因巴尔(Tal Inbar)在Twitter上的一篇帖子里同意这个观点。
Mr. Kim said, “This is indeed a new type of missile.”
He said that if the missile’s first stage was in fact powered by two engines instead of one, it would dispel earlier speculation among some analysts that North Korea might have loaded a very light mock warhead on the Hwasong-15 so it could fly farther.
Chang Young-keun, a missile expert at Korea Aerospace University near Seoul, also said two Hwasong-14 booster engines were bundled together to propel the Hwasong-15, giving it the true range of an ICBM. North Korean engineers may also have helped the Hwasong-15 fly farther by fitting its thicker second stage with more fuel or more thrusters, which are secondary rocket engines commonly used for adjustments and velocity of a missile, he said.
坐落在首尔附近的韩国航空大学(Korea Aerospace University)导弹专家张永谨（Chang Young-keun，音）也表示，“火星-14”的两个助推器引擎被捆绑在了一起，为“火星-15”提供动力，这让它具备了洲际弹道导弹的真正射程。他说，朝鲜的工程师可能还通过为更厚的第二级配备更多燃料或更多推进器，帮助“火星-15”飞得更远。推进器是次要火箭引擎，通常用于为导弹提供调整和速度。
The new missile’s size and heft have required North Korea to build a bigger transporter-launcher vehicle. The new vehicle featured nine axles, compared with the eight-axle truck used to carry the Hwasong-14.
South Korean defense officials say North Korea runs more than 160 mobile missile launching vehicles and is building more. Such vehicles make it easier to hide and transport missiles and harder for the United States and its allies to track signs of imminent missile attacks.
North Korea claims to be able to launch its missiles from anywhere, anytime. As if to drive its point home, each of the three ICBMs North Korea has launched so far was fired from a different location.
The photos also revealed that the Hwasong-15 has a rounder nose cone than the Hwasong-14. In Russian and American ICBM designs, such nose cones often mean that the missiles carry multiple warheads, analysts said. But they doubted that North Korea had the ability to hit an intercontinental target with a warhead yet, much less deliver multiple warheads on the same missile.
North Korea has yet to demonstrate that its ICBM warhead can survive the violent re-entry through the earth’s atmosphere after flying through space.
During a phone conversation with President Trump later Thursday, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea said that the Hwasong-15 was “the most advanced North Korean missile yet, in all aspects,” according to his office.
But he said it had not proved that North Korea has accomplished re-entry technology, or an ability to guide the warhead to its target.
The two presidents reaffirmed their determination to maximize sanctions to stop North Korea from further advancing its technologies and to pressure it to return to nuclear disarmament talks, Mr. Moon’s office said.
Other pictures showed North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, celebrating the launch with his key missile scientists, Jang Chang-ha and Jon Il-ho. Both Mr. Jang and Mr. Jon are important players in North Korea’s efforts to build a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile.
其他照片显示，朝鲜领导人金正恩(Kim Jong-un)与关键的导弹科学家张昌河(Jang Chang-ha)和全日浩(Jon Il-ho)庆祝此次发射。张昌河和全日浩都是朝鲜制造搭载核武器的洲际弹道导弹活动的重要成员。
Mr. Kim was also accompanied by Jo Yong-won and Yu Jin, top officials from the Munitions Industry Department of his Workers’ Party. The party agency oversees the country’s weapons development.
陪同金正恩的还有来自他所领导的劳动党军需工业部(Munitions Industry Department)高层官员赵甬元(Jo Yong-won)和刘进(Yu Jin)。
When the department submitted a plan for this week’s test of the Hwsong-15, Mr. Kim approved it with his characteristic handwriting: “For the party and for the fatherland, launch the missile bravely!”