North Korea says it has completed development of new ICBM rocket engine

"The North is hinting strongly that it will soon launch a new satellite rocket" from its Sohae satellite launch site, Mr. Yang told AFP.

Kim hailed the country's weapons industry for a "series of unprecedented successes".The despot said the test was a great leap forward for North Korea's rocket industry - matching the space programme of other countries.

Considering that the North can use four engines in the first rocket stage, it could already have acquired technology from the September test to come up with a missile with a total thrust power of 320 tons, which experts say is enough to reach the continental United States.

The United States and China have pledged to work together to get the North to take "a different course" and move away from its weapons programmes after USA secretary of state Rex Tillerson met his Chinese counterpart on Saturday. In Seoul, he warned that the USA would consider preemptive military action if the threat reaches a level "that we believe requires action".

The United States has long called on China to do more to rein in its ally, North Korea.

Speaking in Seoul last week, Tillerson said that military action against North Korea was "on the table", indicating a break with the Obama administration's dissuasion strategy based on sanctions.

However, he did not elaborate on the progress the test showed the North had made, nor comment on whether the engine could be used for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), saying the South Korean military was conducting analysis.

But he stressed that investigations into the murder case is ongoing and he said he hopes for the cooperation of Pyongyang in surrendering the four North Korean suspects to assist in investigations.

Kim Jong-Un declared a "new birth" in his country's rocket program as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to restrain North Korea's nuclear weapons plan. "I will tell you he is acting very, very badly", the U.S. president said.

Tillerson sat down for talks with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday but their stances remained miles apart.

Following Tillerson's trip, the top nuclear negotiators of South Korea and the USA are set to intensify consultations. "We are exploring a new range of security and diplomatic measures". North Korean officials said they will launch more Earth observation satellites and are building a space program that would include a moon launch in the next 10 years.

  • Leroy Wright