North Korea tests new engine for ballistic missile

Kim Jong-un threatens South Korea with nuclear 'annihilation'

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North Korea has begun testing a new high-thrust solid-fuel engine that would enable its ballistic missiles to be launched quicker and in a more mobile way, according to reports. The test was overseen by the country’s leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday at North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, the official KCNA news agency reported.

The same area has been used in other tests for missile technologies, such as rocket engines and space launch vehicles.

The regime is seeking to build up its strategic weapons supply and speed up its nuclear and missile programmes, according to Reuters.

Experts say the test seems aimed at developing a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), indicated by the thrust of the engine.

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

“Once deployed, the technology would make North Korea’s nuclear forces more versatile, survivable, and dangerous.”

Professor of North Korean studies at Kyungnam University in South Korea, Lim Eul-chul, said this latest test is a further sign of the North’s intentions to build stronger ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

He added: “We cannot rule out the possibility of the North test-firing an ICBM with a new solid-fuel rocket next year.”

At a key party meeting last year Kim set out his five aims for military accomplishments for the regime, with developing a solid-fuel ICBM being one of them.

After overseeing the test, Kim said “another important problem in carrying out the five priority tasks” was successfully solved.

He also shared his “expectation that another new-type strategic weapon would be made in the shortest span of time,” according to KCNA.

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In pictures released from the test, Kim is seen smiling and holding a cigarette as a large smoke cloud looms behind him.

In spite of international bans and sanctions, North Korea has conducted an astounding number of missile tests in 2022, including an ICBM capable of reaching the US mainland.

One official at South Korea’s unification ministry handling inter-Korean affairs said: “We are concerned about North Korea’s media report, and are monitoring its activities.”

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