North Korea conducted a ‘very important test’ at the Sohae satellite launch site on Dec. 7, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
“A very important test was carried out at the Sohae Satellite Launch Site on December 7th, 2019,” a spokesman for the North’s National Academy of Science was quoted as saying by the state media.
The report didn’t specify what was tested. But South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said that nothing has been fired from the launch site in Tongch’ang-ri in North Korea’s North Pyongan Province.
In a statement released by the KCNA, the Academy of National Defense Science said the result of the successful test from Saturday at the Sohae launching site has been reported to the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party. “The result will play a significant role in once again altering the strategic position of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the near future,” the statement added.
During the 2018 North Korea–United States summit, Kim Jong-un promised that North Korea would destroy a missile engine test stand soon. The site was not initially named but was later identified to be the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground by U.S. officials. This pledge was made official as part of the Pyongyang Declaration which Kim and South Korean leader Moon Jae-In signed at the September 2018 inter-Korean summit. On 31 October 2018, South Korean officials visited the site and confirmed it was being dismantled and ready for an upcoming inspection.
But in early 2019, after a summit between North Korea and the U.S. ended without an agreement, North Korea began rebuilding the site.
The test came as Pyongyang has ramped up pressure on the United States to meet its demand for a new negotiating proposal by year’s end, strongly suggesting that otherwise, it could restart testing of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Last week, the North reiterated that the deadline is drawing closer, saying that it is “entirely” up to the U.S. what “Christmas gift” it wants to get, putting pressure on Washington to take first action in making concessions.