March 25, 2016 09:35
North Korea on Thursday claimed it has succeeded in testing a solid-fuel engine for its space rockets.
If the claim is true, the North could save time injecting fuel into missiles, shortening the period between decision making and launch and threatening South Korea's interception ability.
"The predictive value of the test surprisingly matched its measured value," the official [North] Korean Central News Agency claimed.
Watching the test, leader Kim Jong-un applauded and expressed "much satisfaction," saying, "We've secured a new springboard in the development of the rocket industry," KCNA said.
"We now can further increase the might of ballistic missiles with which to strike hostile forces mercilessly," Kim added.
That is the closest admission yet that the North's space rocket launches were veiled tests of intercontinental ballistic missile technology.
The North uses liquid fuel for a variety of short-, medium, and long-range missiles.
"Using solid fuel means that it is possible to launch missiles anytime," Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said.
The test came six months after Kim gave orders, the news agency added.
This suggests that the North was already preoccupied with development when Liu Yunshan of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee was trying to dissuade the North from launching any more missiles during his visit on the Workers Party's 70th anniversary, a diplomatic source said.
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