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North Korea conducts rocket engine test, US official says

On Friday a South Korean military official told local news service Newsis the army is “keeping a close watch” on the development and that it is investigating the plausibility of an intercontinental ballistic missile engine test.The military said the missile, a Hyunmoo-2 with a range of up to 800 kilometers (nearly 500 miles), hit its target accurately.After the launch at a military test site on the southwest coast, Moon said it was important for South Korea to maintain military capability that could “dominate” North Korea in order to maintain peace on the peninsula and for future engagement policies with the North to be effective, his spokesman Park Soo-hyun said. In this regard, the DPRK stated that its ballistic missile test launches are self-defensive in response to these and other provocations from Washington and its previously denounced allies.Moon has expressed a desire to use the February 9-25 Pyeongchang Olympics to reach out to North Korea, with relations between the two at their lowest point in decades.North Korea has tested a rocket engine that the United States believes could be part of its programme to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile, USA officials said.Another US official was quoted as saying that increased activity was detected at North Korea’s sole nuclear test site in recent days.But South Korea’s desire to improve its weapons gained urgency as the North made gains in its missile programs.Shortly after his election, South Korea’s president announced that he’d learned the U.S. had sent four additional un-approved launchers to the site.However, experts say Pyongyang could still be years away from have a reliable ICBM capability. North Korea has never sent its taekwondo athletes to Olympics. ICBMs have a minimum range of about 5,500km, but some are created to travel 10,000km or farther.North Korea’s state media, which is normally quick to publicize successful missile-related developments, did not carry any reports on the engine test. Moon observed the test-firing of a new midrange missile the country is developing to cope with growing threats from North Korea.It was the second such test of the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor, which is being developed by Raytheon.