North Korea conducts rocket engine test, US official says

Claudine Rigal
Juin 24, 2017

North Korea has carried out another test of a rocket engine that the United States believes could be part of its programme to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile, a U.S. official says.

North Korea has tested a rocket engine that could be fitted to an intercontinental ballistic missile, a United States official said, in an apparent provocation ahead of a summit between President Donald Trump and the leader of South Korea.

A second United States official also confirmed the test but did not provide additional details on the type of rocket component that was being tested or whether it fit into the ICBM program. The Unha-3/Kwangmyongsong rocket launched from there in 2012 and 2016 is believed to be similar to an ICBM in many ways.

One official said he believed the test had taken place within the past 24 hours.

The US has also ramped up its military presence in the region, conducting drills with Japan as well as South Korea, and is installing a controversial missile defence system in Seoul, known as Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence system (Thaad).

North Korea's last rocket engine test came in March and was apparently timed to coincide with the visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Beijing, where he warned that regional tensions had reached a "dangerous level".

"It will be a key component in our kill chain to counter possible North Korean missile attacks", the president's spokesperson told reporters in comments carried by local news agency Yonhap.

The United States has tried for years to discourage South Korea from developing longer-range ballistic missiles in keeping with the Missile Technology Control Regime, a voluntary global arms-control pact.

After the launch at a military test site on the southwest coast, Moon said it was important for South Korea to maintain military capability that could "dominate" North Korea in order to maintain peace on the peninsula and for future engagement policies with the North to be effective, his spokesman Park Soo-hyun said. It's been only three months since that first test, and if the regime has indeed successfully tested the final stage, many experts believe the North has almost completed its ICBM technology and will soonl be able to put more pressure on Washington.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests since 2006, including two previous year.

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