It is unclear at this time exactly what North Korea intends to to do with its new solid-fueled engine. If it intends to load it into a solid-fueled ICBM, that is definitely cause for concern.
The rogue North Korean regime appears to be pushing ahead on its deadliest missiles.
North Korea tested a new solid-fueled rocket engine in the east coast city of Hamhung early last week, The Diplomat reports, citing a U.S. government official with knowledge of North Korea’s ballistic missile program. North Korea has conducted solid-fueled engine tests in the past, contributing to the development of its Pukguksong missiles.
Pyongyang has two solid-fueled Pukguksong missiles in its arsenal. These include the Pukguksong-1 (KN-11) submarine-launched ballistic missile, which was tested successfully last August, and the Pukguksong-2 (KN-15), a land-based version of its sea-launched predecessor that was tested for the first time in February and again in May.
North Korea is believed to be working on the Pukguksong-3, a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile.
During an August visit to the Academy of Defense Science, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un ordered the Chemical Materials Institute to “produce more solid-fuel rocket engines and rocket warhead tips,” North Korean state media reported at that time. In the pictures from the visit, the designs for the Pukguksong-3 can be seen on the wall. Although it is difficult to know for certain, a mock-up of this missile may have been presented at a massive military parade in April, where two previously-unseen canisterized missiles were rolled out for the world to see.