N. Korea tested rocket engine: Think-tank

Updated 12 July 2013
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N. Korea tested rocket engine: Think-tank

SEOUL: North Korea tested a rocket engine earlier this year in a potential bid to further develop its missile capability, a US think-tank said yesterday after reviewing new satellite images.
Images of the Tongchang-ri rocket base in the country’s northwest indicated the North conducted at least “one or more rocket engine tests” in late March or early April, the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said.
The site, also known as Sohae Satellite launch station, was the base for the communist state’s successful rocket launch last December, after a failed attempt in April of the same year.
Pyongyang claims both were peaceful science projects aimed at putting its Unha satellite into orbit. The international community, which widely condemned the December launch, views them as disguised long-range ballistic missile tests banned under United Nations resolutions.
Nick Hansen, an expert on imagery analysis, said engine tests were “a key part” of efforts to develop long-range missiles.
He said the latest images showed activities including movements of fuel tanks around a launch pad and a seven-car train potentially carrying the engine, other equipment and technicians to the test site.
They also showed a new distinctive orange-coloured stain in the flame trench, designed to protect a rocket from exhaust gases, on the launch pad that is similar to those shown in previous rocket launches, he said.
“Rocket engine tests, while less visible, are also important in technology development,” wrote Hansen on the institute’s blog, 38 North.
“The recent engine test indicates that Pyongyang continues to move forward with its... long-range missile programmes despite continuing United Nations sanctions and China’s public expression of displeasure with the North’s efforts to further develop nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them,” he wrote.
December’s rocket launch prompted further tightening of UN sanctions on the impoverished but nuclear-armed state.
Pyongyang responded by staging its third nuclear test in February, a move that even irritated its sole major ally, China. The isolated North’s economic prop made the rare move of joining other UN Security Council members in slapping more sanctions on the regime in March.
Angered by new sanctions and what it called Seoul’s hostile policy, the North mounted a series of apocalyptic threats, including of nuclear attacks on Seoul and Washington, sharply raising tension on the peninsula.
In April, Pyongyang withdrew its workers from a joint industrial complex, citing military tensions.
The crisis subsided after Pyongyang changed tack and made a series of reconciliatory gestures towards Seoul and Washington in recent months, though initial talks held over the weekend to discuss reopening the industrial complex were fruitless.


Protests across Spain as sexual abuse gang released on bail

Demonstrators shout slogans as they take part in a protest rally in Valencia on June 22, 2018, a day after a court ordered the release on bail of five men sentenced to nine years in prison for sexually abusing a young woman at Pamplona's bull-running festival. (AFP)
Updated 17 min 52 sec ago
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Protests across Spain as sexual abuse gang released on bail

  • All five, aged between 27 and 29, were convicted of sexual abuse in April but were acquitted of the more serious crime of sexual assault
  • Thousands of people had already protested in Pamplona, Bilbao, Barcelona and other cities on Thursday after the court issued its ruling

MADRID: Protesters hit the streets across Spain for the second day running on Friday, after five men sentenced to nine years in prison for sexually abusing a young woman at Pamplona’s bull-running festival were released on bail.
The men, who called themselves “The Pack” in a WhatsApp messaging group, had been accused of raping a woman, then 18, on July 7, 2016, at the start of the week-long San Fermin festival, which draws tens of thousands of visitors.
All five, aged between 27 and 29, were convicted of sexual abuse in April but were acquitted of the more serious crime of sexual assault — which includes rape — as the court did not consider the victim to have been subjected to intimidation or violence.
The men appealed their jail terms and a Pamplona court on Thursday ordered the five to be released on bail of 6,000 euros ($7,000) pending the outcome of the appeal.
Thousands of people of all ages demonstrated outside the justice ministry in central Madrid on Friday evening, shortly after the five men left jail after spending nearly two years in custody.
“I was stunned” by the court ruling, Aratz Beranoaguirre, a geologist, told AFP at the Madrid protest.
“Men have been educated with the idea that we can do anything, and with this ruling we have seen that you can rape and nothing happens.”
The crowd chanted: “They don’t believe us if they don’t kill us.”
Other protests were held in the southern city of Seville, the hometown of the five men, Pamplona — where the crowd held a large banner that read: “No is no. Justice!” outside of city hall — Granada, and elsewhere.
Thousands of people had already protested in Pamplona, Bilbao, Barcelona and other cities on Thursday after the court issued its ruling.
Women’s groups took to social media to call the protests with the slogan: “If the pack hits the streets, we will as well.”
Marches after the verdict in April brought tens of thousands of protesters out on to the streets.

“It is not fair that they are released with a sentence of nine years, and just a few days before San Fermin, they can even go there,” said Lucia Rodriguez, a 60-year-old protester in Madrid, referring to the upcoming running of the bulls festival which gets underway on July 6.
In its decision on Friday, the Navarre court said the five had been allowed out on bail because the social pressure on them made it “practically unthinkable” they would risk re-offending.
The men will remain under judicial monitoring. They have had their passports withdrawn and must report to court three times a week.
They are also banned from traveling to Madrid, where the victim lives.
One of the men is a policeman with the Guardia Civil — who is currently suspended — and another was once in the army. Several are “ultras” or hardcore fans of FC Sevilla.
The fact that the men videoed the attack on their smartphones and bragged about it within their WhatsApp group added to the outrage over the case.

The mayor of Pamplona, Joseba Asiron, said Friday his office would appeal the decision to release them, saying there was “a growing distance... between society itself and certain decisions taken by the courts.”
An online petition calling for the five to be kept behind bars had garnered 657,000 names by Friday night.
New socialist Justice Minister Dolores Delgado has not commented on the court decision, speaking only of a need to “change mentalities.”
The first step announced by the government of Pedro Sanchez, who took office earlier this month at the head of cabinet that includes 11 women, was to train magistrates in awareness about violence against women.
Noelia Garcia, 41, said she did not trust that the situation would change with a new government dominated by women.
“That is not enough. There needs to be a reform of the judicial system. Judges from another era need to be replaced,” she added at the Madrid protest.