North Korea conducts rocket engine test

North Korea recently claimed it is closer to testing an ICBM that could potentially hit any target in the continental United States and concerns are growing the military is not ready for a potential attack.

North Korea has tested a rocket engine that could potentially be fitted to an intercontinental ballistic missile, a USA official told AFP on Thursday, amid soaring tensions over Kim Jong-Un's nuclear weapons programme.

A second U.S. official also confirmed the test but did not provide additional details on the type of rocket component that was being tested or whether it fit into the intercontinental ballistic missile programme.

This photo carried by North Korea's state news agency on March 19, 2017, shows the North's ground test of a new high-thrust rocket engine.

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News of the test came one day after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged China, Pyongyang's sole ally, to put more pressure on the North to rein in its atomic weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

One official said he believed the test had taken place within the past 24 hours.

May 31, the US military held exercises to repel attacks of Intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula intensified in early 2016 when North Korea conducted a nuclear test and after that launched a ballistic missile carrying a satellite.

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China's top diplomat met Trump at the White House on Thursday, where he said Beijing was willing to keep working with Washington to defuse tensions on the Korean peninsula, China's foreign ministry said.

The head of the US Defence Intelligence Agency told Congress last month that North Korea, if left unchecked, was on an "inevitable" path to obtaining a nuclear-armed missile capable of striking the US mainland. However, experts have said that Pyongyang could still be years away from producing a reliable ballistic missile. According to the report, the test was conducted on Wednesday near the North's Dongchangri missile test site.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests since 2006, including two past year.

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