North Korea Claims To Have Tested A Powerful New Rocket Engine Despite Warnings From The U.S. Not To Do So

As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the situation with North Korea once again continues to escalate. Days after saying the U.S. wouldn’t rule out “preemptive action” against DPRK over their nuclear threats, Kim Jong-un has announced that the nation has taken another step forward in their long-range rocket goals.

According to BBC News, Korea tested a new “high-thrust engine” that is being heralded as a “great leap forward” for the nation and its rocket ambitions:

Leader Kim Jong-un declared the test “a new birth” for the North’s rocket industry, state news agency KCNA said.

He said the engine would help North Korea achieve world-class satellite launch capability, it added.

After personally overseeing the test, Mr Kim “emphasized that the world will soon witness the great significance of the epoch-making victory we achieved today”, KCNA reported, adding that it marked the birth of the country’s rocket industry.

While singling out the thruster’s use for putting satellites into space, the new tests also help support Kim’s ominous New Year’s Day threat regarding North Korea’s ICBM capabilities:

“The ICBM will be launched anytime and anywhere determined by the supreme headquarters of the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]. The U.S. is wholly to blame for pushing the DRPK to have developed ICBM as it has desperately resorted to anachronistic policy hostile toward the DPRK for decades to encroach upon its sovereignty and vital rights.

Tensions have risen between the United States and North Korea soon after the Trump administration took power in January. DPRK has conducted several missile tests since Trump’s inauguration, including one that was said to be “practice” for hitting U.S. military bases in Japan. In response, the U.S. moved forward with bringing new anti-missile technology to South Korea — an act that caused much protest in China.

China’s role in North Korea’s relationship with the rest of the world is one that the U.S. is hoping to use given recent developments. During Tillerson’s meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday, the Chinese urged cooler heads to prevail when dealing with the Communist dictatorship. Meanwhile, CNN reports that Tillerson was expected to announce “financial penalties on Chinese companies and banks that do business with North Korea.”

It would seem that the gulf between the nations is going to mend anytime soon, but hopefully cooler heads can prevail in the meantime and at least halt any aggression.

(Via BBC News / CNN)