SEOUL, April 27 (UPI) -- North Korea missile technology has not made much progress since 2012, an initial South Korean analysis showed Wednesday.
South Korean military officials said North Korean rocket debris salvaged from waters near the coast showed the missile used in a "satellite launch" on Feb. 7 was identical to the Unha-3 launched in 2012, local newspaper Hankyoreh reported.
The military said the number 3 was etched on the side of a recovered fuel tank, but it was found beneath a layer of paint – evidence that the North Koreans were concealing an older system.
Other fragments from the rocket's engine nozzle and motor indicated the missile was "almost the same" as the last device launched four years ago.
Seoul also said a protective cover used to guard satellites was not found among the fragments, indicating that it's more likely the missile was being used for weapons testing, Yonhap reported.
The cover is used to protect a satellite against secondary shock, vibration and dust, an official said.
If the North's true intention were to launch a satellite into space, engineers would have placed protection on the device, the official added.
There were also traces of a "gunpowder explosion," a sign that satellite development was not the goal, the military stated.
North Korea had claimed its 2016 Kwangmyongsong-4 rocket was a new technology. The South's Defense Ministry said the changes to the recent rocket were minor, including the addition of a "corrosion resistant" fluid to the fuel, Newsis reported.
The first stage of the rocket, the propellant, exploded into fragments of more than 270 pieces, Seoul said.