Fears over ‘im­por­tant test’ at North Korea’s long-range rocket launch site


NORTH KOREA said it had car­ried out a “very im­por­tant test” at its long-range rocket launch site.

The site had been par­tially dis­man­tled when North Korea en­tered denu­cle­ariza­tion talks with the United States last year, but it has been re­port­edly been re­built.

Prospects for a re­sump­tion of talks have dimmed. The North has warned it would seek “a new way” if it failed to gain ma­jor US con­ces­sions by year’s end.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in dis­cussed de­vel­op­ments in North Korea this week­end.

US-North Korea diplo­macy largely re­mains dead­locked since the sum­mit be­tween Pres­i­dent Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Fe­bru­ary, due to dis­putes over how much sanc­tions re­lief the North must get in re­turn for dis­man­tling its key nu­clear com­plex.

North Korea has warned the US must aban­don hos­tile poli­cies and come out with ac­cept­able pro­pos­als by the end of this year or it would take an un­spec­i­fied new path. A North Korean spokesman said the test at the So­hae Satel­lite Launch­ing Ground would have “an im­por­tant ef­fect on chang­ing the strate­gic po­si­tion of (North Korea) once again in the near fu­ture”.

North Korea did not say what the test in­cluded. An­a­lyst Kim Dong-yub said North Korea likely tested for the first time a solid-fuel en­gine for an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile. The use of solid fuel in­creases a weapon’s mo­bil­ity.

North Korea has said its satel­lite launches are part of its peace­ful space de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme. But many ex­perts say bal­lis­tic mis­siles and rock­ets used in satel­lite launches share sim­i­lar bod­ies and other tech­nol­ogy. North Korea’s UN am­bas­sador, Kim Song, said denu­cle­ariza­tion had “al­ready gone out of the ne­go­ti­a­tion ta­ble”.

DON­ALD TRUMP: Pres­i­dent held tele­phone talks with South Korea over the North.

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