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North Korea Claims Successful Test of New Rocket Engine

FILE - A man passes by a TV news program with file footage of a North Korean rocket launch at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016.

North Korea on Tuesday launched a successful ground test of a new high-powered rocket engine, according to state media, indicating the country is closer to acquiring long-range capabilities.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is said to have overseen the launch and is quoted by KCNA news agency as ordering officials to prepare for a satellite launch “as soon as possible.”

Jean Ha-kyu, South Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesperson, said Tuesday, "We believe that North Korea tested the performance of its new type high-power thrust engine for a long-range missile."

Over the past year, the country has carried out several long-range missile tests within its space program that the United Nations and others believe to be a cover for ballistic-missile and rocket testing.

The new engine tested Tuesday will give North Korea “sufficient carrier capability for launching various kinds of satellites, including Earth observation satellites at a world level,” KCNA reported.

The new engine test comes less than two weeks after North Korea conducted its fifth and most powerful nuclear warhead test, which the country claimed gives it the ability to fit a miniature warhead on a rocket.