SEOUL – South Korea’s military said Tuesday that North Korea has conducted a ground test of a new rocket engine that could be used for
a long-range missile, China’s Xinhua news agency reportd.
An official at South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) told a press briefing that North Korea is assessed to have carried out a performance test of a new high-powered engine, which could be used for a long-range missile.
Whether the engine jet test was a success, the official said, still needs more detailed analysis, but he noted that the jet capability seems to have been enhanced based on North Korea’s state media announcement.
North Korea’s official KCNA news agency reported that top leader Kim Jong Un has guided a ground jet test of “a new type high-powered engine of a carrier rocket for geo-stationary satellite” at the Sohae Space Centre in the country’s west coast.
The state media said the test was a great success. The Sohae centre is dubbed in South Korea as Tongchang-ri rocket base, where North Korea launched a long-range rocket in February and had conducted other rocket tests.
The test came after North Korea said on Sept 9 that it successfully conducted an explosion test of nuclear warhead to fit on ballistic rockets.
Standardisation of the warheads, which North Korea claimed after the fifth nuclear test, was seen in South Korea as a sign of starting the mass-production of nuclear warheads.
The fifth nuclear test was seen as the most powerful nuclear detonation ever by North Korea as it produced an explosive yield of 10 kilotonnes, stronger than six kilotonnes recorded in the fourth test in January.
About a month after the fourth nuclear device test, North Korea put a Kwangmyongsong-4 Earth observation satellite into orbit aboard a Kwangmyongsong rocket on Feb 7.
The Kwangmyongsong rocket has been seen by Seoul’s defence ministry to have extended North Korea’s ballistic missile range to about 12,000 km that may enable Pyongyang to strike the eastern part of the US mainland.
It was longer than an estimated range of 10,000 km held by the three-stage Unha-3 rocket, which Pyongyang blasted off to deliver the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite into space in December 2012.
Two months later, the third nuclear test of North Korea was carried out. In April 2012 and in the same month of 2009, North Korea launched Kwangmyongsong satellites, but many countries such as South Korea, the United States and Russia claimed they were failures.
In August 1998 and July 2006, Pyongyang launched Taepodong rockets, which Seoul saw as long-range missiles, but South Korea assessed the tests had failed.
Pyongyang had conducted a series of ballistic missile launches since top leader Kim gave an order on March 15 to test a nuclear warhead and ballistic rockets capable of carrying the warhead “in a short time.”
Earlier this month, North Korea test-fired three Rodong ballistic missiles that flew about 1,000 km and landed near Japan’s territorial waters.
On Aug 24, a ballistic missile was launched from a North Korean submarine off its east coast, traveling 500 km, the longest-ever distance by country.
On June 22, Pyongyang launched a Musudan intermediate-range missile, flying some 400 km after lofting as high as 1,413.6 km.
It was seen as a considerable technological advance and the first success by North Korea after several failures. – BERNAMA