North Korea Tests High Performance Rocket Engine, Ignoring US Threat
18:01 20.03.2017(updated 23:17 20.03.2017)
North Korea has seemingly ignored US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's warning that military action against the country is "on the table" by proceeding with a ground jet test of a new high performance rocket engine.
The test of the new engine, which can be repurposed for use in missiles, was hailed as a success by the hermit nation's leader Kim Jong-un.
Kim Jong-un was present at the Sohae satellite facility in Dongchang-ri on Saturday, March 18, for the test, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
The young leader, quoted by KCNA, said that the test was a "great event of historic significance" that marked the "new birth" of the country's rocket industry as North Korea seeks to erase its dependence on other countries' technology.
"The whole world will soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries," the leader purportedly said after the event.
The nation's new agency said the purpose of the test was to confirm the reliability of the engine's features, including its thrust power in the combustion chamber and the movements of various valves.
The examination comes after Tillerson said the United States' strategic patience with North Korea has ended, and warned that "all options are on the table" for Washington when dealing with Pyongyang, including military intervention.
Tillerson, who visited the border between the two Koreas on Friday, March 17, during his diplomatic trip of Asia, said that the "policy of strategic patience has ended."
"The diplomatic and other efforts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to a point of de-nuclearization have failed. So we have 20 years of a failed approach," Donald Trump's top diplomat added.
Despite the warning Dr. Daniel Pinkston, international relations lecturer at Troy University in Seoul, told Sputnik that conflict in the region would be "catastrophic" and all nations involved would want to avoid it.
"The US has a long-standing mutual defense treaty with South Korea and the UN commander, who is the US general here [in Seoul], has an obligation to fulfil the armistice, to maintain the ceasefire," Dr. Pinkston told Sputnik.
Pinskton also said that the North is pursuing its nuclear program as a "deterrence" and that the country would not be ready for long-term warfare as in some areas such as with aircraft and tanks, "they are very backward."
On March 6, media reported that North Korea fired four ballistic missiles, and three landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone.
According to the Japanese Defense Ministry, the missiles did not inflict any damages. The South Korean military claimed that the missiles had flown more than 600 miles. Pyongyang said that the launches were a successful drill to strike US military facilities located in Japan.
The six-party talks launched in 2003 aimed to end North Korea's nuclear program via negotiations involving the United States, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and North Korea.
The negotiations reached a stalemate when North Korea withdrew from the talks in 2009 and has since carried out multiple nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
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