S. Korea says test shows North is making ‘meaningful progress’ in weapons program
SEOUL, South Korea — A rocket-engine test conducted by North Korea shows the communist state is making “meaningful progress” with its nuclear-weapons program, a South Korean defense official said Monday.
North Korea said Sunday it successfully conducted a ground test of a new high-thrust engine at its Sohae Satellite Launching Station. Leader Kim Jong Un guided and observed the test, calling it “a great event of historic significance” and declaring it represented “a new birth” of the country’s rocket industry.
The quotes were typical of exaggerated rhetoric usually employed by Pyongyang and relayed via the state-run media.
But U.S. officials and experts have said recent activity by North Korea, including more than two dozen ballistic missile tests since last year, show the country is making alarming progress toward its stated goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile that could target the U.S. mainland.
South Korea’s military acknowledged Monday that the test, which apparently was conducted on Saturday, showed the North was developing a more sophisticated engine.
A spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, Lee Jin-woo, told reporters that the model tested included a main engine connected to four auxiliary engines.
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