North Korea has tested a new rocket engine as part of its efforts to build a missile capable of reaching the American mainland, U.S. officials said.
A second United States official also confirmed the test but did not provide additional details on the type of rocket component that was being tested or whether it fit into the intercontinental ballistic missile programme.
The North has carried out two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since the beginning of a year ago in its quest to develop a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States - something Trump has vowed "won't happen".
North Korea's last rocket engine test came in March and was apparently timed to coincide with the visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Beijing, where he warned that regional tensions had reached a "dangerous level".
Calling North Korea the "top security threat" to the United States, Tillerson said China has a "diplomatic responsibility to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region". In September 2016, Pyongyang carried out another nuclear test, while more than 20 missiles were test-fired during the year. Trump said in a tweet earlier this week.
"We watch North Korea's actions closely".
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The test follows about a dozen missile launches this year, as well as three engine tests in March.
Moon's office did not disclose the details of the missile being tested, but South Korea has been working to develop ballistic missiles with a range of 800 km (500 miles), a voluntary cap under an agreement with the United States.
China's top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, told Trump in a meeting at the White House that Beijing was willing to "maintain communication and co-ordination" with the USA in an effort to diffuse tension on the Korean peninsula, according to a statement from China's foreign ministry on Friday. Intercontinental ballistic missiles have a minimum range of about 5,500km but some are created to travel 10,000km or farther.
North Korea however did not publicise details of the test; it is usually quick to do so with successful ones. According to the report, the test was conducted on Wednesday near the North's Dongchangri missile test site.