Pyongyang ‘tested new long-range rocket engine’

AFP-JIJI

New satellite images suggest North Korea tested a long-range rocket engine last month, a U.S. research institute said Monday.

While the exact engine type could not be identified, possibilities included the second stage of the Unha-3 Space Launch Vehicle or the second- or third-stage engine of a much larger rocket under development, the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University posted on its website, 38 North.

Analysis of satellite photos indicated the test had taken place sometime between Aug. 25 and 30 at the North’s Sohae satellite launching station, the post said.

Sohae was the base for the successful launch of the Unha-3 rocket in December, an event condemned by the West as a disguised long-range ballistic missile test that violated U.N. resolutions.

The U.N. Security Council tightened sanctions against North Korea after the launch, and then again after the North’s missile test in February.

Separate satellite images analyzed by the U.S.-Korea Institute last month showed that North Korea has embarked on a major new construction program at Sohae.

The building work included what could be a possible new launchpad for testing mobile ballistic missiles.