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NEWS North Korea tests high-thrust solid-fuel engine for apparent ICBM development

North Korea tests high-thrust solid-fuel engine for apparent ICBM development

SEOUL, Dec 16 (Reuters) – North Korea has tested a high-thrust solid-fuel engine that experts say would allow faster and more maneuverable launches of ballistic missiles as it seeks to develop a new strategy weapons and accelerate their nuclear and missile programs.

The test, overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, took place on Thursday at North Korea’s Sohae satellite launch site, which is used to test missile technology, including rocket engines and space launch vehicles, KCNA reported on Friday.

Experts said that given the thrust of the engines, the test appeared to be aimed at developing a new type of solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which North Korea said was the country’s “first of its kind”.

North Korea has been working to create more solid-fuel missiles, which are more stable and can be launched with little warning or preparation time.

“Compared to liquid-propellant weapons, solid-fuel missiles are more maneuverable, launch faster, and are easier to conceal and use during conflict,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha University in Seoul. .

“Once deployed, this technology will make North Korea’s nuclear forces more flexible, survivable and dangerous.”

Lim Eul-chul, a professor of North Korean studies at Kyungnam University in South Korea, said the latest test showed North Korea was pushing to build more capable intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

“We cannot rule out the possibility that North Korea will test an intercontinental ballistic missile with a new type of solid-fuel rocket next year,” Lim said.

unprecedented test

Developing a solid-fuel intercontinental missile is part of five military missions North Korea unveiled at a key party meeting last year.

According to the Korean Central News Agency, Kim Jong-un said after supervising the test that “another important issue in the implementation of the five priority tasks” has been successfully resolved, and said that he “looks forward to producing another new type of strategic weapon in the shortest possible time.”

In a photo released by the Korean Central News Agency, Kim Jong-un is seen smiling with a cigarette in one hand, with a cloud of smoke visible behind him.

Despite international bans and sanctions, North Korea has conducted an unprecedented number of missile tests this year, including an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental United States.

A new report from the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said commercial satellite imagery showed the construction of a seemingly horizontal engine test stand, describing it as a “first of its kind” at the Sohae station to boost the facility’s capabilities.

“We follow North Korean media reports and are monitoring its activities,” said a South Korean Unification Ministry official in charge of inter-Korean affairs.

The latest test came as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, was in Seoul for talks with South Korean officials, in which he vowed to do all he could to stop North Korea’s nuclear program.

During his meeting with Grossi, South Korean President Yoon Hee-yeol expressed concern about North Korea’s “race” to advance its nuclear and missile programs, calling on UN agencies to cooperate to deter Pyongyang from further provocations.

North Korea has completed preparations for a possible nuclear test, its first since 2017, South Korean and U.S. officials said.

Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi Editing by Alistair Bell, Lincoln Feast and Michael Perry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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