North Korea claimed on Tuesday that it has successfully conducted the ground test of a high-power rocket engine. The Asian country could soon be launching a satellite, the country's official Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
The successful test indicates that North Korea continues to advance its missile launch technology, despite calls for further isolating the country through sanctions. It recently made headlines after it conducted its fifth and biggest nuclear test, which was condemned internationally.
"Thrust and other technological indexes of the engine accurately reached the estimated values and its operational system remained stable during 200 seconds-long working time," KCNA said in an English dispatch. The mission was carried out under the guidance of leader Kim Jong-un, it added. The country's leader also asked officials and scientists at the Sohae Space Center in the western region, "to round off" the preparations to launch the satellite as soon as possible.
"Given Pyongyang claims the single engine's thrust reached 80 (ton force), there seems to be an improvement in the engine's propulsion power. We are still analysing if the test was really successful," Seoul's Joint Chief of Staff spokesman said. The newly-tested rocket engine can be used to launch long-range missiles, he added.
Kim Jong-un reportedly also called for more satellite launches so that North Korea becomes a possessor of geostationary satellites in the next several years.
South Korea's news agency Yonhap said that the North has disguised many long-range missile launch tests as long-range rockets built to launch a satellite into space.
South Korean experts also said that the new rocket launch is an indication that North Korea is attempting to build long-range missiles that can reach the United States.