March 20, 2017
North Korea said on Sunday that it had conducted a ground jet test of a newly developed high-thrust missile engine, which its leader, Kim Jong-un, called “a great event of historic significance.” Using the characteristic bombast of such announcements, he said that the test heralded “a new birth” of the country’s rocket industry and that “the whole world will soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries.”
The North’s rival, South Korea, acknowledged on Monday that the test represented a breakthrough. Lee Jin-woo, a spokesman at the Defense Ministry, said it showed that the North was developing a more sophisticated rocket engine. The model that the North tested included a cluster consisting of a main engine and four vernier thrusters — smaller engines used to adjust the craft’s velocity and stability.
“Through this test, it is found that engine function has made meaningful progress,” Mr. Lee said during a news briefing, without divulging further details.
By welcoming Iran back into the “community of nations” while giving a wink-and-a-nod to its medium-term nuclear program, Barack Obama might have effectively killed the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. How China and the U.S. choose to deal with North Korea could determine whether there’s any life left in it.