North Korea has tested a powerful new rocket engine, state media said Sunday, with leader Kim Jong-Un hailing the successful test as a “new birth” for the nation’s rocket industry.
The test was apparently timed to coincide with the visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Beijing Saturday, where he warned that regional tensions had reached a “dangerous level”.
State news agency said Kim had overseen the operation, and “emphasised that the whole world will soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries”, KCNA reported, hinting that the North could use the new engine to launch a rocket to put a satellite in orbit. Rocket engines are easily re-purposed for use in missiles.
Outside observers say that the nuclear-armed Pyongyang’s space programme is a fig leaf for weapons tests.
“The development and completion of a new-type high-thrust engine would help consolidate the scientific and technological foundation to match the world-level satellite delivery capability in the field of outer space development,” KCNA reported.
“The leader (Kim) noted that the success made in the current test marked a great event of historic significance as it declared a new birth of the Juche-based rocket industry.”
On Saturday, the US and China pledged to work together to address the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear programme.—Agencies