South Korean officials: North Korean rocket could hit U.S. mainland
This photo from South Korea's Defence Ministry Sunday shows debris from North Korea's December 12 rocket launch.
December 24th, 2012
02:49 AM ET

South Korean officials: North Korean rocket could hit U.S. mainland

By Paula Hancocks and Greg Botelho

The rocket launched earlier this month by North Korea had the capability to travel more than 6,000 miles, meaning this type of rocket could strike the United States, South Korean defense officials said.

North Korea's success raises stakes for U.S. missile defense system

In remarks to reporters Friday, which were embargoed until Sunday, three officials with South Korea's defense ministry offered their observations about the December 12 launch based on a recovered oxidizer tank that had been part of one of the rocket's boosters. According to NASA, an oxidizer tank contains oxygen compounds that allow rocket fuel to burn in the atmosphere and outside of it, in space.

North Korean officials cheered what they hailed as a successful launch of a long-range rocket, which they said put a satellite in orbit. But the mission drew international condemnation, with many viewing it as cover for testing of ballistic missile technology, which the United Nations has forbidden Pyongyang from using.

U.S. may push for sanctions after North Korea rocket launch

The South Korean military officials said the evidence they found helps show their nuclear-equipped rival's intent and progress in developing intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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