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North Korea's Recent Test of Rocket Engine is 'Pursuing Some Unclear Goal'

Sputnik News

21:50 20.03.2017(updated 22:03 20.03.2017)

On March 19, North Korea announced that it had successfully tested a new powerful rocket engine. The peculiarity of the current test unlike previous ones was that Pyongyang made ambiguous statements regarding the purpose of this test.

Kim Dongyeop, Professor of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University told Sputnik that following the previous missile launches held in March there were detailed explanations about what types of missiles were being tested. However, after the tests held on March 19, the rhetoric was completely different and somewhat unclear.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the test took place at the same northwestern facility where the country had been launching rockets to put satellites into orbit, which Western officials have said were efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

"In the description of the current test launches there are elements of space and military program. Judging only by the content of the message it seems that this was the final test of an engine for a geostationary satellite which was first tested in September 2016," Dongyeop told Sputnik.

DPRK news agency reported that the completion of the development of a new super-powerful engine made a huge technological contribution to the sphere of space development, providing an opportunity to launch a world-class satellite.

The state news agency said that the North Korean leader Kim Jong hailed the successful test as a "new birth" for the nation's rocket industry.

However, some see these new tests as referring to a statement made by Kim Jong during a New Year's address in which he mentioned a rocket engine designed to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Furthermore, North Korean media reports said that the results of the current test "have become a great event in the history of development of our defense sector, defense industry and production of strategic weapons. We will continue to develop unique weapons of the North Korean type on a global scale."

According to Dongyeop, "Such ambiguous statements regarding recent missile tests are aimed at pursuing some kind of a goal which is so far unclear."

Perhaps it was a response to the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's statement that the era of Obama's "strategic patience" is over and the US is ready for decisive military measures against the DPRK.

Could it be that these unclear reports suggesting that the rocket engine can be used for intercontinental missiles is a message to the US? The professor thinks that's quite possible.

South Korean media have already described this as a process associated with the launch of ICBMs announced at the beginning of this year.

Many also believe that Pyongyang's reports of success in the "North Korean strategic weapons development area" on the same day that China was visited by the US Secretary of State signify a strong desire of Pyongyang to demonstrate to the US and China its technical successes.

However, the professor said that such tests are usually planned months in advance and cannot coincide with a particular political event such as the official visit of Tillerson to China.


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