The North's leader Kim Jong-Un oversaw the "successful" test of the powerful new rocket engine, state media said Sunday, in a move apparently timed to coincide with a trip to Asia by new US Secretary State Rex Tillerson.
Yesterday the USA hinted that it would consider a pre-emptive strike on North Korea - as President Trump took aim at the country's despotic regime.
In brief interaction with reporters at Mar-a-Lago, Trump said that over the weekend he held meeting with his officials on North Korea.
"North Korea claimed it tested a new high-thrust rocket engine Saturday, the latest in a string of missile tests over the past few months".
The paper also claimed that the firing of a new intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), called Pukguksong-2, on February 12 and four ballistic missiles on March 6 were steps to fight "constant USA invasion intimidations".
It's hard to know whether this test was deliberately timed to coincide with Tillerson's visit, but Pyongyang has been highly critical of ongoing U.S. This is an unusual admission considering that the South prefers to play down North Korea's weapon capabilities.
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When asked about the possibility of using military force to combat the threat from North Korea, Mr Tillerson told a news conference in South Korea's capital Seoul: "All of the options are on the table".
China, the North's biggest source of diplomatic support and economic assistance, hasn't responded directly to those comments, although Beijing has called repeatedly for all sides to take steps to reduce tensions.
While in Tokyo he had said that efforts over the past 20 years to prevent a nuclear North Korea had failed.
China has agreed reluctantly to U.N. Security Council resolutions sanctioning North Korea, but is adamantly opposed to measures that might bring about a collapse of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's regime. They have been playing the United States for years.
In another Twitter post days before his inauguration, Trump said that Kim's vow to construct an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the U.S.