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North Korea ‘tests new high-thrust rocket engine’

The Associated Press

A man watches a TV news program showing an image, published in North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper, of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the country's Sohae launch site, at Seoul Railway station in Seoul on Sunday.

The Associated Press TOKYO (AP) — North Korea has conducted a ground test of a new type of high-thrust rocket engine that leader Kim Jong Un is calling a revolutionary breakthrough for the country’s space program, the North’s state media said Sunday.

Kim attended Saturday’s test at the Sohae launch site, according to the Korean Central News Agency, which said the test was intended to confirm the “new type” of engine’s thrust power and gauge the reliability of its control system and structural safety.

Kim called the test “a great event of historic significance” for the country’s indigenous rocket industry, the KCNA report said.

He also said the “whole world will soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries” and claimed the test marks what will be known as the “March 18 revolution” in the development of the country’s rocket industry.

The report indicated that the engine is to be used for North Korea’s space and satellite-launching program.

North Korea is banned by the United Nations from conducting long-range missile tests, but it claims its satellite program is for peaceful use, a claim many in the U.S. and elsewhere believe is questionable.

The test was conducted as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in China on a swing through Asia that has been closely focused on concerns over how to deal with Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

It’s hard to know whether this test was deliberately timed to coincide with Tillerson’s visit, but Pyongyang has been highly critical of ongoing U.S.-South Korea war games just south of the Demilitarized Zone and often conducts some sort of high-profile operation of its own in protest.

Earlier this month, it fired off four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, reportedly reaching within 200 kilometers of Japan’s shoreline.Speech

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