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North Korea says it tested a ‘high-thrust solid fuel engine’

Pyongyang has been working to build more solid-fuel missiles, which are more stable and can be launched with almost no warning.

North Korea has tested a “high-thrust solid fuel engine,” state media reported Friday, as the isolated country continues efforts to develop a new strategic weapon and ramps up its nuclear and missile programs.

The test, overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, took place on Thursday at North Korea’s Sohae satellite launch field, the official KCNA news agency said.

The static firing test demonstrated the reliability and stability of the engine, providing a “guarantee for the development of another new type of strategic weapons system,” KCNA added.

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Experts say the test appears to be aimed at developing a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) given the thrust of the engine, which North Korea said was “the first of its kind” in the country.

Pyongyang has been working to build more solid-fuel missiles, which are more stable and can be launched with almost no warning or preparation time.

“They can be used for surprise launches and show improved survivability against attacks from enemies, which means that North Korea is accelerating its drive to develop more powerful ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles,” Lim Eul-chul said. , a professor of North Korean studies at Kyungnam University in South Korea.

“We cannot rule out the possibility that the North will test an ICBM with a new solid-fuel rocket next year.”

a view of a "high thrust solid fuel engine" Test.  Smoke and flames shoot out of a device on a hillside.  There is a small island in the background and the sea.  it looks cold
The test took place at the Sohae satellite launch field. A US think tank said in a recent report that satellite imagery showed a horizontal engine test bed had been built there. [KCNA via Reuters]

unprecedented tests

The development of a solid fuel ICBM was part of North Korea’s five military tasks implemented at its key party meeting last year.

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After supervising the test, Kim said that “another major problem in carrying out the five priority tasks” had been successfully resolved, and expressed “the expectation that another new-type strategic weapon will be manufactured in the shortest possible time.” according to KCNA.

North Korea has conducted an unprecedented number of missile tests this year, including an ICBM capable of reaching the mainland United States, despite international bans and sanctions.

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In March, Kim visited the Sohae site and called for the expansion of the facility, which has been used to test various missile technologies, including static rocket engines and space launch vehicles.

A new report from the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said commercial satellite imagery showed construction of what appears to be a horizontal engine test bed, describing it as the “first of its kind ” at Sohae station.

The latest test came when the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, visited Seoul for talks with South Korean officials and vowed an all-out effort to stop North Korea’s nuclear program.

During his meeting with Grossi, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol expressed concern about North Korea’s “rush” to advance its nuclear and missile programs, and called for the cooperation of the United Nations agency. United to discourage Pyongyang from further provocations.

South Korean and US officials have said North Korea has completed preparations for a possible nuclear test, which would be the first since 2017.

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