North Korea conducts rocket engine test

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.

Two U.S. officials who spoke to Fox on the condition of anonymity said the engine test took place in Yunsong, North Korea, where other tests had taken place.

The US, meanwhile, is ramping up capabilities to defend against the threat from North Korea, staging its first-ever successful test to intercept an incoming intercontinental ballistic-type missile in May.

USA spy satellites have detected new activity at North Korea's underground nuclear test site that involve some modifications around one of the tunnel entrances to an underground test area, US officials said.

The officials told Reuters they believed the test could be part of Pyongyang's programme to develop an inter-continental ballistic missile.

South Korean officials did not have details about the reported test and declined to comment on the possible nature of the engine.

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The engine could "potentially be used on a future intercontinental ballistic missile or ICBM", according to the report.

President Donald Trump has made halting the North Korean nuclear threat his number one foreign policy priority. The previous intercept test, conducted in February, had been successful.

The officials said it is not yet clear if the activity indicates a sixth nuclear test is imminent, but noted there is concern that North Korea could set off a test during Wednesday's visit to Washington by top Chinese diplomats and military officials.

The news of the North's latest rocket engine test, possibly for the second or third stage of a missile, came amid concern that it has almost obtained full technology for an ICBM capable of hitting the US mainland.

However, experts say Pyongyang could still be years away from have a reliable ICBM capability.

"South Korea is closely monitoring the situation under the collaboration with the USA", said Lee Eugene, vice ministry spokesperson, at a regular press briefing.

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