S. Korea keeps close tabs on NK missile development

Author

24 June, 2017

"South Korea is closely monitoring the situation under the collaboration with the US", said Lee Eugene, vice ministry spokesperson, at a regular press briefing.

Pyongyang tested a new rocket engine that can be installed on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Fox News reported on Thursday, citing unnamed USA officials.

USA spy satellites have detected new activity at North Korea's underground nuclear test site that involve some modifications around one of the tunnel entrances to an underground test area, US officials said.

North Korea's last rocket engine test came in March and was apparently timed to coincide with the visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Beijing, where he warned that regional tensions had reached a "dangerous level".

American officials said that the test was probably conducted in the past 24 hours and could represent one more step in the regime's efforts to create an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States.

According to the channel's sources, the test took place on Wednesday.

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The US has also ramped up its military presence in the region, conducting drills with Japan as well as South Korea, and is installing a controversial missile defence system in Seoul, known as Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence system (Thaad).

Rocket engines are easily re-purposed for use in missiles.

China's top diplomat met Trump at the White House on Thursday, where he said Beijing was willing to keep working with Washington to defuse tensions on the Korean peninsula, China's foreign ministry said.

North Korea's state media has not released a relevant report.

The head of the US Defence Intelligence Agency told Congress last month that North Korea, if left unchecked, was on an "inevitable" path to obtaining a nuclear-armed missile capable of striking the US mainland.

A midrange ballistic missile was launched from a test site in Hawaii, but an interceptor missile launched from USS John Paul Jones missed the target, the agency said. Pyongyang conducted similar tests in March.


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