Asia

North Korea 'conducts high-thrust engine test'

  • 18 March 2017
  • From the section Asia
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, South Korea, Sunday, March 19, 2017 Image copyright AP
Image caption North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly called the launch "historic"

North Korea's state media says its military has tested a new high-performance rocket engine.

Leader Kim Jong-un declared the test "a new birth" for the North's rocket industry, state news agency KCNA said.

He said the engine would help North Korea achieve world-class satellite launch capability, it added.

The development, not confirmed elsewhere, comes as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits China - Pyongyang's main ally.

After personally overseeing the test, Mr Kim "emphasised that the world will soon witness the great significance of the epoch-making victory we achieved today", KCNA reported, adding that it marked the birth of the country's rocket industry.

Mr Tillerson's East Asian tour has been dominated by anxieties over North Korea's nuclear capabilities.

In South Korea on Friday, he said a US military response would be on the table if North Korea threatened South Korea or US forces.

The US and China pledged to work together to get the North to take "a different course" and move away from its weapons programmes after Mr Tillerson met his Chinese counterpart on Saturday.

The BBC's China editor Carrie Gracie says the North Korean announcement upstaged Mr Tillerson's subsequent talks with the Chinese President, Xi Jinping.

Image copyright AP
Image caption TV stations in South Korea have been broadcasting images said to be of the North's rocket engine test

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and a series of missile launches. Experts and government officials believe it is working to develop nuclear-warhead missiles that can reach the US.

Kim Jong-un has said the country is close to a test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Media captionHow do you solve a problem like North Korea?

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