March 20, 2017 09:37
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watched the combustion test of a new rocket engine at a launch site in Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province, state media reported Sunday.
Kim hailed the success as a "new birth" for the country's rocket industry and added, "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," according to the [North] Korean Central News Agency.
That is usually code for fresh developments in intercontinental ballistic missile technology.
North Korean media did not disclose the test date, but the announcement was timed with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Asia.
Tillerson alarmed observers by saying the U.S.' "policy of strategic patience has ended" and pledged to get tougher on the North.
A military spokesman here said, "Greater thrust power means that the engine has higher efficiency and thus consumes less fuel. It also means that they can reduce the size of the fuel tank to the extent that they can mount the ICBM on a mobile launch vehicle."
But the North Korean media did not give the name of the new engine or its specifications. Experts speculate the thrust test was for the "Paektusan" rocket that was first tested last September, based on images published in state media.
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