Tokyo, Sep 17: North Korea has tested the engine mechanism for an intercontinental missile that might be able to hit major cities on the US. An account published on Tuesday, Sep 16 in the South Korean press and reported by the Washington Post said that Jane's Defense Weekly had identified the location of the previously unknown missile launch site as being on the west coast of North Korea.
Commercial satellite images revealed that the facility has a mobile launch pad and a 10-story tower that would support the North's largest ballistic missiles, Appearing before a parliamentary committee in Seoul last Thursday, South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee said the launch site is about 80 percent complete.
If accurate, the reports indicate that while North Korea has pursued on-again, off-again negotiations with the United States and four other countries on abandoning its nuclear weapons program, it has continued to work on developing a long-range ballistic missile and is diverting scarce resources from a collapsing economy that has brought about chronic food shortages.
A 2006 UN Security Council resolution demands that North Korea 'suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program'.
The US Embassy in Seoul and South Korea's Defense Ministry declined Tuesday to confirm or deny the missile test report.
An 'improved version' of the Taepodong missile might have a range of more than 6,200 miles, the Chosun Ilbo reported, putting Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles within reach.
A previous version had a range of about 4,150 miles, which could reach Alaska.