North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presided over the successful test of a "high-thrust solid-propellant" engine to be used in a new weapon, state media said Friday.
Pictures from the Korean Central News Agency showed Kim holding a cigarette and smiling as white smoke emerged from a horizontal test engine stand at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in western North Korea.
"The crucial test provided a firm scientific and technological guarantee over the development of another new-type strategic weapon system," said an English report in the state-run Voice of Korea.
The report said Kim expects "the emergence of another new-type strategic weapon in the shortest period," but did not elaborate.
Analysts believe the test is likely related to North Korea's pursuit of a solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
North Korea already possesses, and has flight-tested, multiple liquid-fueled ICBMs that can likely reach the United States.
In January 2021, Kim announced plans to develop solid-fueled ICBMs, which are more easily transportable and take less time to prepare to launch.
The plans were included as part of a longer wish list of strategic weapons, including hypersonic missiles and ICBMs with multiple warheads. North Korea has since made rapid progress on developing many of those systems but has not yet flight-tested a solid-fueled ICBM.
North Korea has launched a record-high 63 ballistic missiles this year, including several long-range missiles. The United States has for months said North Korea is also in the final stages of preparing for what would be its seventh nuclear test since 2006.