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North Korea tests rocket engine, possibly for ICBM

25 June 2017

Defiant North Korea has conducted another rocket engine test that can be used for an intercontinental ballistic missile or ICBM capable enough of reaching the USA mainland.

North Korea put a temporary moratorium on its nuclear and uranium programs in February 2012 in return for food aid from the US, but the deal came apart two months later when North Korea launched a rocket to put a satellite into orbit.

United States officials believe the test was done to see how the smallest stage of a three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile would work.

One official said he believed the test had taken place within the past 24 hours.

The test follows about a dozen missile launches this year, as well as three engine tests in March.

South Korean officials did not have details about the reported test and declined to comment on the possible nature of the engine.

Remarks are an apparent effort to be consistent with the position of the Trump administration President Moon Jae-in's remarks in a June 22 interview with Reuters, in which he demanded a "more active role from China in deterring North Korea's nuclear and missile development", were both a continuation of his emphasis on Beijing's rule during his presidential campaign and an apparent attempt to keep step with US President Donald Trump's recent claims that China's efforts at exerting influence on North Korea had failed.

Moon's office quoted him as saying Friday that the launch was important for the South to maintain military capability that could dominate the North in order to maintain peace on the peninsula and for future engagement policies with the North to be effective.

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The indigenous missile known as Hyunmoo-2 has an estimated range of 800 Kilometers that covers all of the North, and will be deployed following two more tests.

Engine tests have been a particular concern for observers of North Korea, as the engine previously employed in missiles, the Musudan, had a awful track record and several recorded failures. South Korea is facing tough challenges in resolving the North's nuclear standoff and improving inter-Korean ties.

Due to the secretive nature of all of North Korea's military activity, it is hard for experts to assess how close the country is to building a reliable ICBM. ICBMs have a minimum range of about 3,400 miles (5,500 km), but some are created to travel 6,200 miles (10,000 km) or farther.

The U.S. stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea as a deterrent against North Korea.

The United States, meanwhile, is ramping up capabilities to defend against the threat from North Korea, staging its first-ever successful test to intercept an incoming ICBM-type missile in May.

This news comes on the same day the US military said it failed to shoot-down a ballistic missile using an interceptor missile fired from a USA warship.

It was the second such test of the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor, which is being developed by Raytheon.

North Korea tests rocket engine, possibly for ICBM