North Korea dares again, conducts another rocket engine test

Danny Woods
June 25, 2017

As that threat by the North has increased, South Korea has also sought to strengthen its capabilities, particularly after the United States agreed in 2012 to let it possess ballistic missiles with a range of up to 497 miles as long as the payload did not exceed 500 kilograms, about half a ton. In February, it claimed to have successfully completed the launch of a new ballistic missile.

The South and nuclear-armed North Korea are separated by one of the world's most heavily armed borders and remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.

News of the recent test in the North came a day after Tillerson urged China, Pyongyang's sole ally, to put more pressure on the North to rein in its atomic weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

The US official confirmed to AFP that Pyongyang tested a rocket engine on Thursday, on condition of anonymity and without providing further details.

The country has tested a rocket engine which could be used on a ballistic missile capable of reaching the US.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in Friday oversaw a missile test, which his office said was "aimed at sending a clear warning against North Korea's repeated provocations".

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US President Donald Trump has said he would like to solve the North Korea crisis diplomatically, but has previously warned that a "major, major conflict" is possible.

China's top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, told Trump in a meeting at the White House that Beijing was willing to "maintain communication and coordination" with the United States in an effort to defuse tension on the Korean peninsula, according to a statement from China's Foreign Ministry on Friday.

But South Korea's desire to improve its weapons gained urgency as the North made gains in its missile programs. ICBMs have a minimum range of about 3,400 miles, but some are created to travel 6,200 miles or farther.

"Judging from the speed of North Korea's advancements in nuclear and missile technologies I believe they will acquire such capability in the near future".

But a test on June 21 of a new capability being developed by the United States and Japan to defend against shorter-range missiles failed to hit its target, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said on Thursday.

Outside observers say Pyongyang's space programme is a fig leaf for weapons tests.

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