SEOUL, Sept. 19 (UPI) — North Korea stated that it has successfully completed a test of a new satellite rocket engine.
Workers’ Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun ran a front-page article on Tuesday, local time, that showed what appeared to be the engine test.
The newspaper also stated “Comrade Kim Jong Un” provided guidance during the test at the site identified as the Sohae satellite launchpad, according to Yonhap.
The Rodong ran nine color photographs of Kim and the engine, and Kim reportedly said North Korea must become a geostationary-satellite state in a few years’ time, after conducting several more tests.
Kim also said space development is an important project for the Party and on the “national level.”
In early February North Korea launched the satellite Kwangmyongsong-4, which initially tumbled in orbit and reached a stable position last spring.
Critics have said Pyongyang’s satellite launches are a cover for a test of North Korea’s ballistic missiles, but the North has challenged those claims.
In a separate statement on Tuesday North Korea’s official news agency KCNA stated the country has “for the first time successfully tested an engine for a rocket that could carry a new geostationary satellite.”
The event marks the first time Kim has appeared in public in a non-civilian site since Sept. 9, when North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test at Punggye-ri.
The rocket engine test announcement could mean North Korea may launch another long-range ballistic missile around Oct. 10, the anniversary of the founding the Korean Workers’ Party, according to South Korea press.