The South Korean army believes that with its latest missile test, the North has managed to obtain valuable performance data to continue improving its technology, said a defence official on Monday.

The data, according to Seoul, also indicated an increasingly solid weapons program in the rival country, Efe news reported.

With the launch of a mid-range Pukguksong 2 missile on Sunday, North Korea was able to gather “meaningful data in regards to improving the credibility” of its missile program, a defence ministry spokesperson said.

The missile reached a maximum altitude of 560 km and flew for around 500 km, and given the launch angle, South Korea believes its maximum range would be 2,500 km, which is enough to target South Korea or Japan.

On Monday, Pyongyang also unveiled photos of the Earth taken by a camera mounted on the ballistic missile, and the move is being interpreted as an attempt to demonstrate its mastery over missile atmospheric re-entry technology.

The complex atmospheric re-entry technology is key to ensuring the warhead is able to withstand the vibrations and heat of the flight’s terminal phase before the impact.

The photos were awaiting detailed analysis by experts.

In early 2017, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warned the country was in the advanced stages of developing an intercontinental missile that would be able to reach the US.

There has been an escalation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula owing to repeated weapons testing by Pyongyang and tougher rhetoric, as well as a threat of pre-emptive strikes, by the US.

First Published | 23 May 2017 6:55 AM
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