0230 GMT January 27, 2020
The test was conducted at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea’s Academy of Defense Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred, Reuters reported.
It was the second such test at the facility in a week.
Last Sunday, KCNA said that North Korea had carried out a “very important” test on Dec. 7 at the Sohae satellite launch site, a rocket-testing facility that US officials once said North Korea had promised to close.
That KCNA report called the Dec. 7 event a “successful test of great significance”. South Korea’s Defense Minister Jeong Keong-doo said it was an engine test.
The reported tests come ahead of a year-end deadline North Korea has put forth for the United States to drop its insistence on unilateral denuclearisation.
Pyongyang has warned it could take a “new path” amid the stalled talks with the United States. The top US envoy for North Korea is set to arrive in Seoul today for meetings with South Korean officials.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday said the United States will be “tested soon” on bringing North Korea back to the negotiating table.
“They (North Korea) are still doing training, they do short range ballistic missile tests that we are also concerned about.
“We watch closely as do South Korea and Japan ... the State Department is trying to get them to the table, because the only way forward is through a diplomatic and political agreement,” Esper said at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations.
US-North Korea diplomacy has largely remained deadlocked since the second summit between Trump and Kim in Vietnam in February due to disputes over how much sanctions relief the North must get in return for dismantling its key nuclear complex — a limited disarmament step.
North Korea has since warned that the US must abandon hostile policies and come out with new acceptable proposals by the end of this year or it would take an unspecified new path. In recent months, North Korea has performed a slew of short-range missile and other weapons launches and hinted at lifting its moratorium on nuclear and long-range missiles.
Tension has been rising in recent weeks as Pyongyang has conducted weapons tests and waged a war of words with US President Donald Trump, stoking fears that tensions between the two countries could return.
“Considering the fact that North Korea said the 7-minute test conducted last night was to bolster the strategic nuclear deterrence, the test would likely be related to ICBMs, which North Korea considers a strategic weapon to defend itself from adversaries including the United States,” Koh Yu-hwan, a professor at Dongguk University in Seoul told Reuters.
“North Korea is close to issuing an ultimatum toward the United States to come to the negotiating table with new calculations or to return to developing nuclear weapons,” Koh added.
Stephen Biegun, US special envoy for North Korea, will arrive in South Korea today, Seoul and Washington said on Friday.