North Korea, which has threatened to deliver a “Christmas gift” to Washington if stalled nuclear talks aren’t revived by year’s end, said Saturday it had conducted “another crucial test” at its its long-range rocket launch site.
An unnamed spokesman for North Korea’s Academy of Defense Science said the successful outcome of the latest tests “will be applied to further bolster up the reliable strategic nuclear deterrent of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”
The test possibly involved technologies to improve intercontinental ballistic missiles that could potentially reach the continental United States.
North Korea did not elaborate on Friday night’s seven-minute test at the Sohae Satellite Launch Site. It came six days after North Korea conducted what it called a “very important test” at the same location.
South Korea has confirmed that the North tested a rocket engine last week, according to Yonhap,the South Korean news agency.
North Korea’s latest military moves follow stalled nuclear talks between the United States and North Korea and the collapse of the Hanoi summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in February.
The last two working-level talks between the two countries in Stockholm ended in October with little progress. North Korea has demanded that Washington drop its “hostile policy” toward Pyongyang before it will resume denuclearization talks.
North Korea has warned that it could pull out of already shaky nuclear talks with the U.S. and take a “new way” if its deadline is not met.
Trump, who has hailed the suspension of North Korean nuclear or long-range missile tests as a key U.S. diplomatic achievement, has warned North Korean leader Kim Jong-un not to interfere with his re-election bid, saying Pyongyang could lose “everything.”
The latest test comes two days before a planned visit to Seoul by U.S. top nuclear envoy Stephen Biegun in an apparent effort to keep talks going with North Korea.
North Korea has carried out a series of weapons tests in recent months mostly involving short-range missiles. The latest one took place on Nov. 28, when Pyongyang tested its super-large multiple rocket launcher.
The test last month was the 13th time since May that it has launched projectiles of any type, including likely ballistic missiles, according to Yonhap.
U.N. Security Council resolutions ban Pyongyang from developing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. In 2017, the North fired two ballistic missiles over Japan.
The latest test follows remarks by U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Wednesday in which she criticized the North’s ballistic testing activity, saying that the tests were “deeply counterproductive.” She said they risk closing the door on prospects for negotiating peace.
Craft also cited North Korean hints of “a resumption of serious provocations,” which she said would mean they could launch space vehicles using long-range ballistic missile technology or test ICBMs, “which are designed to attack the continental United States with nuclear weapons.”
While Craft said that the Trump administration is “prepared to be flexible” and take concrete, parallel steps toward an agreement on resuming talks, North Korea described her comments as a “hostile provocation” and warned that Washington may have squandered its chance at salvaging the fragile nuclear diplomacy.
Contributing: Associated Press