North Korea May Up Ante With ICBM Engine Test, Chosun Reports

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(Bloomberg) -- North Korea may increase provocations in the run-up to Christmas by testing an engine for its intercontinental ballistic missiles, Chosun Ilbo reported, citing an unidentified South Korean military official.

North Korea’s next provocation “could be testing an ICBM engine under Kim Jong Un’s presence or firing a SLBM,” the report cited the official as saying, referring to a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

South Korea’s military authorities say Pyongyang may launch a Pukguksong-3, the new type of missile that it tested early October, into the West Sea on a normal trajectory instead of a lofted angle, the newspaper reported.

There have been recent signs of activity at North Korea’s rocket-launch site. New commercial satellite imagery from Dec. 11 indicated work continued at the Vertical Engine Test Stand at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, where Kim’s regime said it conducted an “important test” earlier this week, 38 North said in a report.

Announcing the “successful” test, Pyongyang said the subject that was tested would play a key part in changing its strategic position in the near future. It didn’t elaborate or say what was tested.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun will visit Seoul on Dec. 15 to 17 to discuss the situation with his South Korean counterpart, as Pyongyang steps up pressure on the U.S. to try break a deadlock in bilateral denuclearization talks.

North Korea has threatened to take a “new path” should the U.S. fail to meet the year-end deadline set by Pyongyang.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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