The scientist behind North Korea's rockets

The mastermind behind North Korea's missile programme has been revealed as a middle-aged scientist who was promoted by Kim Jong-un after successfully launching a satellite into space.

Kim Jong-sik, a technical expert with more than 20 years of experience, is the brains behind the rogue state's nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles. 

He now holds North Korea's highest honour, the Order of Kim Jong-il, and is a top figure in the the country's munitions industry department.

The mastermind behind North Korea's missile programme has been revealed as middle-aged scientist Kim Jong-sik (circled)

The mastermind behind North Korea's missile programme has been revealed as middle-aged scientist Kim Jong-sik (circled)

His next launch could be just hours away, with South Korean intelligence warning that a fresh ICBM is being readied for blast off.

Michael Madden, a leading authority on Pyongyang's elite who works with the 38 North watchdog, called the rocket scientist a 'key figure' in the missile programme.

Mr Madden said: 'He's important – pretty much the most consistent person at these missile tests and the things that are related to the defence industry.

'He is a guy that's helped them identify certain technical problems or reach certain technical benchmarks and that's a critical thing.

'That's how he got his current position – because he was involved in the successful launch of the Unha-3 space rocket in December 2012.

Kim Jong-sik (seen over Kim Jong-un's shoulder) is a technical expert with more than 20 years of experience

Kim Jong-sik (seen over Kim Jong-un's shoulder) is a technical expert with more than 20 years of experience

The mastermind (pictured on the right of Kim Jong-un) now holds North Korea's highest honour, the Order of Kim Jong-il 

The mastermind (pictured on the right of Kim Jong-un) now holds North Korea's highest honour, the Order of Kim Jong-il 

'They tried a space launch in April 2012 and it failed after 10 seconds – so they got rid of some people and then, in December 2012, Kim Jong-sik was one of the lead guys.

'He moved from being a sort of

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