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Rocket engine test puts N.K. closer to launching ICBM, satellite: report

All Headlines 16:24 April 10, 2017

SEOUL, April 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is close to launching an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or a geostationary satellite, advanced by a recent test of a new rocket engine, a pro-North Korean newspaper based in Japan reported Monday.

The latest test on the newly developed high-thrust rocket engine heralded that days of the completion of an ICBM and the launch of a satellite have drawn near, the Chosun Shinbo reported.

The Chosun Shinbo is not North Korea's state media, but it serves as an unofficial mouthpiece for Pyongyang.

On March 18, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watched a ground test of the rocket engine in an indication that Pyongyang is preparing for new provocative acts.

There is speculation that North Korea would conduct the sixth nuclear test or fire a long-range rocket around its key anniversaries in April including the birthday of late founder Kim Il-sung, which falls on Saturday.

North Korea has claimed that its launch of a satellite rocket is for peaceful space program, but outside experts said that it is a disguised test of the country's ballistic missiles.

Pyongyang's last long-range rocket launch was conducted in February 2016 following its fourth nuclear test in January. The North has conducted five nuclear tests since 2006.

The North's leader said in his New Year's message that the country has entered the final stage of preparing to launch an ICBM.

Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's main newspaper, on Sunday reported details about a geostationary satellite, a move which appears to set the cause for possible provocations.

Cheong Seong-chang, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute, said that Pyongyang may choose to launch a long-range rocket instead of an ICBM, given Washington's threat of pre-emptive strike and China's strong opposition.

Rocket engine test puts N.K. closer to launching ICBM, satellite: report - 1

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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