North Korea completes 'crucial test' at long-range rocket site

14 December 2019, 12:17

Kim Jong Un seen inspecting a rocket launcher in September
Kim Jong Un seen inspecting a rocket launcher in September. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

North Korea says it has successfully performed another "crucial test" at its long-range rocket launch site that would further strengthen its "reliable strategic nuclear deterrent".

The announcement comes as North Korea continues to pressure the Trump administration over an end-of-year deadline set by leader Kim Jong Un to salvage faltering nuclear negotiations.

North Korea's Academy of Defence Science did not specify what was tested on Friday.

Just days earlier, the North said it conducted a "very important test" at the site, prompting speculation that it involved a new engine for either a space launch vehicle or an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The North Korean announcement suggests that the country is preparing to do something to provoke the United States if Washington does not back down and make concessions in deadlocked nuclear negotiations.

North Korea has repeatedly launched rockets
North Korea has repeatedly launched rockets. Picture: PA

An unnamed spokesman for the academy said scientists received warm congratulations from members from the ruling Workers' Party of Korea Central Committee who attended the test on Friday night at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, where the North has conducted satellite launches and liquid-fuel missile engine tests in recent years.

The spokesman said the successful outcome of the latest test, in addition to the one last Saturday, "will be applied to further bolster up the reliable strategic nuclear deterrent of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea". referring to North Korea's formal name.

Negotiations faltered after the United States rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of the North's nuclear capabilities at Mr Kim's second summit with President Donald Trump in Vietnam in February.

Donald Trump and KIm Jong Un had a falling out in October
Donald Trump and KIm Jong Un had a falling out in October. Picture: PA

President Trump and Mr Kim met for a third time in June at the border between North and South Korea and agreed to resume talks.

But an October working-level meeting in Sweden broke down over what the North Koreans described as the Americans' "old stance and attitude".

Saturday's news of the test came after US Ambassador Kelly Craft on Wednesday criticised the North's ballistic testing activity during a UN Security Council meeting, saying that the tests were "deeply counterproductive" and risk closing the door on prospects for negotiating peace.

She also cited North Korean hints of "a resumption of serious provocations", which she said would mean they could launch space vehicles using long-range ballistic missile technology or test ICBMs, "which are designed to attack the continental United States with nuclear weapons".

While Ms Craft said that the Trump administration is "prepared to be flexible" and take concrete, parallel steps toward an agreement on resuming talks, North Korea described her comments as a "hostile provocation" and warned that Washington may have squandered its chance at salvaging the fragile nuclear diplomacy.

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Airport travellers

Nations across world look to tighten borders as more Omicron cases pop up

People wearing face masks in Tokyo

Japan bans entry of foreign visitors due to Omicron variant’s spread

Milos Zeman formalised the appointment from a transparent box

Covid-positive Czech president swears in new PM from glass box

Matthew McConaughey speaks at a ceremony honoring Guy Fieri with a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Matthew McConaughey rules out running for Texas governor

Kyrgyzstan Elections

Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentary election boosts president’s clout

A woman and child wearing face masks in Beijing

Netherlands confirms 13 Omicron cases as travel curbs tightened across the world

A school pupil wears a face mask

Swiss vote to approve Covid restrictions as infections rise

Taiwan US F16s

Taiwan scrambles jets after 27 Chinese planes enter buffer zone

Cambodia Obit Norodom Ranariddh

Cambodian prince and politician Norodom Ranariddh dies at 77

The Cardiff side is stuck in South Africa (file image)

Cardiff rugby team unable to leave South Africa after suspected Omicron covid case

Travellers wearing face masks arrive at Ben Gurion Airport

Israel tightens travel restrictions over new Covid variant

Czech Republic New Premier

Czech president swears in opposition leader as new premier

A person queues to be tested for Covid-19 in Johannesburg, South Africa

Omicron variant spreads to more countries as world on alert

Virus Outbreak New Variant

World scrambles to contain new Covid-19 ‘variant of concern’

Dutch authorities are testing Covid-infected passengers for the Omicron variant

Netherlands tests passengers on South Africa flights for Omicron as 61 catch Covid

Taliban

Afghan prime minister defends Taliban’s rule amid economic crisis