State media in North Korea has reported on a successful test of a new type of engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile. Leader Kim Jong Un himself supervised the process.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally flagged the ground engine test, the state news agency, KCNA reported on Saturday.
The device immediately "spewed out huge flames with deafening boom" according to the report. "The great success ... provided a firm guarantee for mounting another form of nuclear attack upon the US imperialists and other hostile forces," Kim was quoted as saying.
Now North Korea "can tip new type intercontinental ballistic rockets with more powerful nuclear warheads and keep any cesspool of evils in the earth including the US mainland within our striking range," he added.
Pyongyang is currently locked in yet another diplomatic confrontation with South Korea and the US, after the isolated country conducted its fourth nuclear test in January. Since then, North Korea has claimed a string of breakthroughs in its nuclear weapons program, including reports of a successful hydrogen bomb test and the development of a warhead small enough to be mounted on a missile.
North threatens US
Even before the new engine test, Pyongyang had claimed its rockets were capable of hitting the US mainland.
However, international experts believe the claims to be exaggerated.
Although North Korea has displayed a missile during military parades, claiming it can reach other continents, the isolated country has never conducted an actual flight test of the ICBM technology.
In response to the nuclear test in January and an alleged satellite launch a month later, the UN Security Council agreed on a new set of sanctions, with Pyongyang's traditional ally Beijing also enforcing restrictions.
During recent weeks, North Korean state media broadcast threats of pre-emptive nuclear strikes against both its southern rivals and the US. Last week, the authorities in Seoul reported that Pyongyang was also jamming the GPS signal above South Korea.
dj/jm (AFP, Reuters)