North Korea

Ju Kyu Chang, developer of North Korea missiles and nuclear weapons, dies at 89

His official state obituary described him as ‘an elder revolutionary who made a distinguished contribution to the strengthening of the country’s defence capabilities’

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 September, 2018, 9:51am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 September, 2018, 9:23pm

A veteran North Korean official who was sanctioned for his suspected role in development of the country’s nuclear and missile technology has died, the North announced on Tuesday.

The state-run KCNA news agency said “academician and professor” Ju Kyu Chang died on Monday at the age of 89 from “pancytopenia”, a blood disease.

It said the official state obituary described Ju as “an elder revolutionary who made (a) distinguished contribution to the strengthening of the country’s defence capabilities”.

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Ju was a former minister of the defence ministry, which was in charge of developing the country’s nuclear weapons and missiles.

He was one of a number of individual North Koreans slapped with non-proliferation sanctions in 2013 by the US treasury department for their role in the nuclear programme.

Ju oversaw the launch of North Korea’s Unha-2 long-range rocket in 2009, which he watched alongside then leader Kim Jong-il, Yonhap news agency said.

He was also deeply involved in developing the two Unha-3 long range rockets launched in 2012 before retiring in 2015, it added.

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Impoverished and isolated North Korea has prioritised its nuclear weapons, achieving remarkable success in recent years.

It conducted its first successful nuclear test in 2006 followed by five more and a string of increasingly successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches.

Last year it claimed it had become a nuclear state, capable of fitting a viable nuclear weapon on an ICBM that could reach as far as the United States’ eastern seaboard.