North Korea on Saturday showcased to the world a domestically designed engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States. The move is seen as another attempt by the isolated nation to threaten the US.
The announcement was made through the official Korean Central News Agency but it could not be immediately verified. Analysts, however, maintain that Pyongyang's constant boasts of military advances is aimed at needling Washington.
"With all the missiles they're building, the ranges are getting longer and they're going to be able to throw more stuff further," said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif.
"It seems pretty clear that they're sick of us making fun of them, and they're going to shove it down our throats," Lewis said.
North Korea recently launched a KN-08 road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, also known as a Rodong-C, but its engines did not look like those that had powered other recent launches. This baffled nuclear scientists across the world.
North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un supervised the test, during which "the engine spewed out huge flames with a deafening boom".
The country would now be able to "keep any cesspool of evils in the earth including the US mainland within our striking range," Kim was quoted as saying.
North Korea should "refrain from actions and rhetoric that further destabilise the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its commitments and international obligations," said US state department spokesman Mark Toner.