North Korea Tests Rocket Engine: US Official

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Pyongyang: North Korea has carried out another test of a rocket engine that the United States believes could be part of its programme to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile, a U.S. official told Reuters on Thursday.

The United States believed the test, the latest in a series of engine and missile tests this year, could be for the smallest stage of ICBM rocket engine, the official said.

For years now, North Korea has been developing nuclear technology and missiles that will be able to strike the US mainland, located around 9,000 km (5,500 miles) away. The US and its allies in the region have recently been anxious that Pyongyang is set to carry out its sixth nuclear test after conducting five since 2006.

So far this year, the North has conducted a number of short and medium range missile tests, but experts believe Pyongyang does not yet have the technology to manufacture a functioning intercontinental ballistic missile that could be armed with a nuclear warhead.

Despite Western skepticism over of Pyongyang’s current ballistic capabilities, North Korean media boasted earlier this month about an upcoming ICBM launch.

“The series of recent strategic weapons tests show that we are not too far away from test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile,” Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper North Korea’s Workers Party said.

North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs are being carried out in violation of UN resolutions. Washington and its allies have condemned the North Korean tests, urging China to intensify pressure on Kim Jong-un as Beijing is Pyongyang’s sole economic lifeline.

Beijing and Moscow – which share land borders with the North – have also expressed concerns about the situation on the Korean Peninsula, calling all parties to remain calm and level-headed.