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(2nd LD) N. Korea claims success in new ICBM engine test

All News 11:04 April 09, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS photo, details in last 5 paras)

SEOUL, April 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korea claimed Saturday that it has successfully conducted a ground test of a new engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the latest in a series of Pyongyang's claims of progress in its nuclear and missile programs.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un issued an order to conduct a "jet test of a new type high-power engine of intercontinental ballistic rocket and personally came to the Sohae Space Center to guide the test," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

"The great success made in the test provided a firm guarantee for mounting another form of nuclear attack upon the U.S. imperialists and other hostile forces, and made it possible to have access to more powerful means capable of reacting to nukes in kind," the KCNA quoted Kim as saying.

"Now the DPRK can tip new type intercontinental ballistic rockets with more powerful nuclear warheads and keep any cesspool of evils in the earth, including the U.S. mainland, within our striking range and reduce them to ashes so that they may not survive in our planet," Kim said.

He also stressed the need to diversify nuclear attack means at a higher level to cope with the ever-more-increasing nuclear threats and arbitrariness of the U.S. imperialists and thus decisively counter nukes in kind, KCNA said.

It was the latest in a series of claims of breakthroughs in the North's nuclear and missile programs.

The North argued on March 24 that it conducted the successful test of a "solid-fuel rocket engine and its cascade separation" inspected by Kim.

Pyongyang also announced earlier that it has already miniaturized nuclear warheads to fit on an ICBM and mastered missile atmospheric re-entry technology.

These claims came as Pyongyang has been trying to affirm the leadership of its young leader in the run-up to a rare meeting of the ruling Workers' Party set for May.

The KCNA did not specify the name of the tested ICBM. Analysts view it as meaning a KN-14, an upgraded version of the KN-08.

"North Korea appears to be seeking to prove its missile capability in technical stages, as it's hard to show the actual launch of an ICBM," Yang Uk, a South Korean defense specialist, said. "It's apparently asserting that it is capable of attacking the U.S. mainland any time if it wants."

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