North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has claimed a “historic” advance in the country’s nuclear strike capability with the successful test of a solid-fuel rocket engine, state media said on Thursday.
The solid-fuel engine test was personally monitored by Kim, who said it would allow for a major upgrade of the North’s missile delivery systems and would “strike great horror and terror into the hearts of our enemies,” the state-run KCNA news agency said.
The announcement came as South Korean President Park Geun-hye ordered the military to “strengthen readiness” in the wake of multiple North Korean threats to launch nuclear and conventional missile attacks.
Tensions have soared on the Korean Peninsula since the North carried out its fourth nuclear test on January 6, followed a month later by a long-range rocket launch widely seen as a disguised ballistic missile test.
Angered by ongoing large-scale South Korea-US military drills, Pyongyang has ramped up its rhetoric in recent weeks.
According to KCNA, the solid-fuel test was of a “large output” engine and included separation testing.
Solid-fuel missiles would have distinct advantages over Pyongyang’s current inventory, offering greater mobility and the ability to launch within minutes.