North Korea conducts rocket engine test, possibly for ICBM

South Korean President Moon Jae oversaw the launch 200 kilometers (124 miles) southwest of Seoul, reports Anadolu News.

North Korea has tested a rocket engine that could potentially be fitted to an intercontinental ballistic missile, a US official said on Thursday, amid soaring tensions over Kim Jong-Un's nuclear weapons program.

The tests present a hard challenge to Moon as he has expressed a desire to reach out to Pyongyang. A series of tests that it has conducted has raised fears it is bolstering its abilities to strike South Korea, Japan, and United States military bases in the Western Pacific.

The missile traveled a designated distance before hitting a target, the office said, without disclosing how far it flew.

China is seen as North Korea's main ally and the USA hopes Beijing can have greater influence on the state to stop both its missile tests and nuclear program.

North Korea's test on Thursday could be for the smallest stage of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) rocket engine, said the United States official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

USA spy satellites have detected new activity at North Korea's underground nuclear test site that involve some modifications around one of the tunnel entrances to an underground test area, U.S. officials said.

The 32 North Korean athletes attending the competition in South Korea this week are affiliated with the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) that is combat training focused and allows more direct contact including punches to the head and face.

North Korea state media has branded US President Donald Trump "a psychopath".

Park also quoted a statement by the South Korean president: "As the North Korean missile provocations have continued and advance, our national people and I as a president have been wondering about the missile capabilities of our military". However, Do does plan to raise the idea of inviting North Korean players to join South Korea's women's ice hockey team for the Pyeongchang Olympics, a spokesman of the ministry said.

China's top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, told President Donald Trump in a meeting at the White House that Beijing was willing to "maintain communication and coordination" with the USA in an effort to defuse tension on the Korean peninsula, according to a statement from China's Foreign Ministry on Friday.

But South Korea's desire to improve its weaponry gained urgency as the North accelerated its missile programs.

  • Leroy Wright