Seoul | North Korea has carried out a successful ground test for a new high-power rocket engine, state media said, in a development that could advance Pyongyang’s weapons programme.
After supervising the test at the country’s Sohae satellite-launching site, leader Kim Jong-Un called on officials, scientists and technicians “to round off the preparations for launching the satellite as soon as possible”, KCNA news agency reported today.
There has been speculation that North Korea might celebrate the 68th anniversary of the ruling Workers Party of Korea on October 10 by launching a satellite.
Kim also called for more rocket launches to turn the country into a “possessor of geostationary satellites in a couple of years to come”, according to KCNA.
North Korea has already carried out a series of long-range missile tests presented as satellite launches, most recently in February.
KCNA said the engine would give the country “sufficient carrier capability for launching various kinds of satellites, including Earth observation satellite at a world level”.
Kim “expressed great satisfaction” over the results of the test.
He said the North had made cutting-edge scientific advances “despite the difficult economic conditions of the country”, the report said.
North Korea has been hit by five sets of United Nations sanctions since it first tested a nuclear device in 2006, but has insisted it will continue, come what may.
KCNA gave no date for the test but it is customary for state media to report Kim’s activities with a day’s lapse.
The engine test comes after the North claimed earlier this month that it had successfully tested a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on a missile and follows a series of ballistic missile launches.
The September 9 nuclear test was the North’s fifth and most powerful yet at 10 kilotons experts have said.
Pyongyang’s state media said that test had realised the country’s goal of being able to fit a miniaturised warhead on a rocket.
If Pyongyang can make a nuclear device small enough to fit on a rocket — and bolster the range and accuracy of its missiles — it might achieve its oft-stated aim of hitting US targets. But its past claims to have achieved this have been discounted.
The nuclear programme has been accompanied by a series of ballistic missile launches, including from a submarine.