North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supervised a successful test of a new engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), its state media said on Saturday in the latest claim of making advances in its arms program that has brought U.N. sanctions.
Tension has remained high on the Korean peninsula after the North’s nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch earlier in the year and South Korean and U.S. troops conducted large-scale joint drills amid harsh rhetoric from both rival Koreas.
The engine was ignited at Kim’s command and released a fiery blast, and the test showed the indigenously designed rocket fulfilled all required conditions, the North’s KCNA news agency said.
“Dear Comrade Kim Jong Un said now we can mount an ever more powerful nuclear warhead on a new intercontinental ballistic rocket and put the den of evil in the United States and all over the world within our strike range,” KCNA said.
The test was conducted at the country’s missile station near its west coast where in February it launched a long-range rocket that put an object into space orbit and was supervised by Kim, it said.
THAAD deployment ‘going to happen’
Earlier, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said deployment of a new U.S. missile-defense system to South Korea “is going to happen,” adding that China should do more to counter North Korea’s missile development rather than complain about U.S. plans.
Asked at a New York seminar if the deployment would go ahead, Carter replied:
“Oh, it’s going to happen. It’s a necessary thing. It’s between us and the South Koreans; it’s part of protecting our own forces on the Korean peninsula, and protecting South Korea.
“(It) Has nothing to do with the Chinese, and I do wish the Chinese would work with us, or really work bilaterally with North Korea more effectively, although it’s easy to say that — dealing with North Korea for anybody is a challenge — at heading off their missile challenge in the first place.
“But we need to defend our own people, we need to defend our own allies, and we are going to do that,” Carter told the Council on Foreign Relations.
China complains that the THAAD has a range that would extend far beyond the Korean peninsula and into China and deployment of the system would threaten its national security interests and damage regional strategic stability.
U.S. officials believe that China, as North Korea’s neighbor and only major ally, is best placed to influence the isolated country, although some analysts believe this ability to push for change has waned in recent years.