SEOUL, March 23 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un said the country had "successfully" tested a solid-fuel rocket engine, according to Pyongyang's news agency KCNA.
Kim made the statement while providing field guidance during a solid-fuel rocket test, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Thursday, local time.
Kim reportedly said he wants to increase the power of North Korea's ballistic missiles, and that the triumphant test is a stepping stone to developing a "ballistic rocket" that can "ruthlessly beat down hostile forces."
The North Korean leader was at a site where the solid-fuel rocket engine and separation testing supposedly took place, according to Pyongyang's state media.
"A new springboard has been formed in rocket industry development. This day is to be eternally unforgettable, a historical day," Kim reportedly said.
KCNA described the event as one that included a "roaring noise" and "high output" from a solid-fuel rocket engine.
The test involved assessing the "structural stability" of the engine, applying "our style of planning and production," North Korea said. The test's "predicted value and measured value" proved to be "amazingly consistent" with "all scientific and technological indicators," state media reported, adding in the "short span of six months our reliable defense scientists and technicians were able to complete a successful test."
If the test was conducted, it is believed to be part of preparations for the country's Seventh Party Congress, to be held in May.
Lee Chun-geun, a researcher at Science and Technology Policy Research Institute in South Korea, said at this point in time North Korea only uses solid propellants in the KN-09 multiple-rocket launcher, and liquid propellants for long-range missiles.
If North Korea is developing a solid propellant engine, it means it is developing shorter-range missiles, which presents a "serious problem," Lee said.