North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has supervised a ground test of a new rocket engine to launch satellites, state media reported on Tuesday, the latest in a rapid succession of missile-related tests this year by the isolated state.
Kim asked that scientists and engineers make “preparations for launching the satellite as soon as possible on the basis of the successful test,” the official KCNA news agency said.
This indicates that the North may soon launch another long-range rocket, according Reuters.
The test was conducted amid global condemnation of the North’s fifth nuclear test this month and a call by the United States, Japan and South Korea this week for greater pressure on Pyongyang for its disregard for United Nations resolutions banning missile and nuclear programs, the news agency said.
North Korea has been testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles at an unprecedented rate this year under Kim’s direction, including the launch of a satellite in February that was widely seen as a test of long-range ballistic missile technology.
Kim visited the Sohae Space Center “to guide the ground jet test of a new type high-power engine of a carrier rocket for the geo-stationary satellite”, KCNA said.
The Sohae center is the North’s newly upgraded rocket station where the February launch of a satellite and other rocket tests have been conducted.
North Korea earlier this month fired three missiles that flew about 1,000 kilometers each and in August tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile that international experts said showed considerable progress.
It also launched an intermediate-range missile in June that experts said marked a technological advance for the isolated state after several test failures.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang agreed to step up cooperation in the United Nations Security Council and in law-enforcement channels after North Korea’s fifth nuclear test, the White House said.
UN diplomats say China and the United States have started discussions on a possible UN sanctions resolution in response to the test earlier this month, but Beijing has not said directly whether it will support tougher steps against North Korea.
Obama met Li on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly session in New York.
“Both leaders condemned North Korea’s September 9 nuclear test and resolved to strengthen coordination in achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, including by invigorating cooperation in the United Nations Security Council and in law enforcement channels on North Korea,” a White House statement said.
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