One day after Rex Tillerson warned that the US is contemplating a pre-emptive military attack on North Korea, the isolated nation announced it has conducted a ground test of a new type of high-thrust rocket engine that leader Kim Jong Un is calling a "revolutionary breakthrough" for the country's space program, the North's state media said Sunday. Kim attended Saturday's test at the Sohae launch site, according to the Korean Central News Agency, which said the test was intended to confirm the "new type" of engine's thrust power and gauge the reliability of its control system and structural safety.
Kim called the test "a great event of historic significance" for the country's indigenous rocket industry, the KCNA report said. He also said the "whole world will soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries" and claimed the test marks what will be known as the "March 18 revolution" in the development of the country's rocket industry. The report indicated that the engine is to be used for North Korea's space and satellite-launching program.
The claim of a successful test of the high-thrust rocket engine would put North Korea a step closer to being able to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile, as Mr. Kim said the country would do this year in his new-year address, the WSJ reported.