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North Korea ‘tests new high-thrust rocket engine’

19 March 2017 14:42


North Korea has conducted a ground test of a new high-performance rocket engine, state media have said, branding the successful test a breakthrough in the country’s space program.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the Saturday test was intended to gauge the reliability of the “new-type” engine’s control system and structural safety, adding that the engine would help Pyongyang achieve world-class satellite launch capability.

“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,” the agency said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who appeared at the country’s Sohae satellite-launching site, where Pyongyang had previously conducted long-range rocket tests, hailed the test as “a new birth” of its rocket industry.

Calling the test “a great event of historic significance” for the country’s indigenous rocket industry, Kim said, “The whole world will soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries.”

Kim also said the test marked what will be known as the “March 18 revolution” in the development of North Korea’s space and satellite-launching program.

US ‘to exercise no more patience’

The test was conducted as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in China after visiting US allies Japan and South Korea, focusing on concerns over how to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

In China, Tillerson said Washington would no longer go after the “failed” approach of patient diplomacy with Pyongyang, warning that US military action against North Korea was an option “on the table.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, however, called on all sides to exercise rationality and seek a diplomatic solution to the issue. China is North Korea’s main ally.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) shakes hands with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after a joint press conference in Beijing, March 18, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

North Korea has so far conducted five nuclear tests and numerous missile launches.

The United Nations and the European Union have already imposed an array of crippling sanctions on the North over its missile and nuclear programs. Pyongyang says the programs are meant to guarantee security against potential US military aggression.

Despite the sanctions and other forms of international pressure, Pyongyang declared itself a nuclear power in 2005, and has pledged to strengthen its military capability.

The North Korean leader accuses the US of plotting with regional allies to topple his government.

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