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North Korea rocket-engine test shows 'meaningful' progress - South Korea

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Last fall, the United States and South Korean militaries detected at least two failed missile launches by North Korea.

"The latest test is believed to have made some meaningful progress in engine functions", Seoul's defence ministry spokesman told reporters.

The statement said: "The Korean People's Army will reduce the bases of aggression and provocation to ashes with its invincible Hwasong rockets tipped with nuclear warheads and reliably defend the security of the country and its people's happiness in case the United States and the South Korean puppet forces fire even a single bullet at the territory of the DPRK". "We believe this was an attempt to develop a new engine". "If they shoot a missile, (Japanese) self defense forces will try to shoot them down".

Kim attended Saturday's test at the Sohae launch site, according to the Korean Central News Agency, which said the test was meant to confirm the "new type" of engine's thrust power and gauge the reliability of its control system and structural safety.

"The development and completion of a new-type high-thrust engine will help consolidate the scientific and technological foundation to match the world-level satellite delivery capability in the field of outer space development", KCNA quoted Kim as saying.

It put its first satellite in orbit in 2012, a feat few other countries have achieved.

The report indicated that the engine is to be used for North Korea's space and satellite-launching program.

"An ICBM variant of the Unha could be sufficiently similar to the space launch vehicle in that it would be very likely to succeed, making it a good candidate for a political demonstration even though the Unha would make for a poor missile".

China followed a similar path with its space and ballistic missile program beginning in the 1960s. "Now the DPRK can tip new type inter-continental ballistic rockets with more powerful nuclear warheads and keep any cesspool of evils in the earth, including the USA mainland, within our striking range and reduce them to ashes so that they may not survive in our planet", the Korean Central News Agency reported afterwards.

North Korea has conducted a series of missile launches this month, including four on March 6, KCNA reported.

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"It is unlikely that North Korea now has a nuclear weapon that weighs as little as 1,000 kg (2,200 lb). It is also unlikely that such a first-generation nuclear weapon would be capable of surviving the unavoidable 50 G deceleration during warhead reentry from a range of almost 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles)", they wrote.

"This engine produces enough thrust for the first stage, possibly even the second stage, of a large ICBM", Michael Elleman of the US-based International Institute for Strategic Studies told CNN.

A North Korean military unit tasked with striking U.S. bases in Japan was involved in those launches, the state news agency said.

For his part, Tillerson struck a more conciliatory tone in Beijing than he had a day earlier in Seoul, stressing that Beijing and Washington shared a "common view" that North Korea must be stopped. The Japanese government said three out of four missiles launched from North Korea on March 6 landed in the sea less than 200 nautical miles (around 370 kilometers) from Oga.

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Graham added that the value of such testing for internal propaganda purposes should also not be ignored.

"It appears that North Korea has worked out much of its development of the first-stage rocket booster", he said.

"Let's not forget the ideological aspect of this", Graham said.

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