North Korea preparing for another nuclear weapons test

The South and nuclear-armed North Korea are separated by one of the world's most heavily armed borders and remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.

Pyongyang tested a new rocket engine that can be installed on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Fox News reported on Thursday, citing unnamed U.S. officials.

The officials told Fox News that the latest engine test on Thursday was conducted in the city of Yun Song, where previous rocket tests have taken place.

The test came on the heels of news report that North Korea conducted a rocket engine test that appeared to be part of its ICBM missile program, according to Reuters.

China is seen as North Korea's main ally and the USA hopes Beijing can have greater influence on the state to stop both its missile tests and nuclear program.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who was elected last month on a platform of a more moderate approach to Pyongyang including dialogue to ease tension, inspected the test-launch of a ballistic missile on Friday that is being developed by the South's military.

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US President Donald Trump has said he would like to solve the North Korea crisis diplomatically, but has previously warned that a "major, major conflict" is possible.

If the USA were to halt its military exercises with South Korea.

"Our people will feel proud and safe after seeing that our missile capability doesn't trail North Korea's", said Mr Moon.

The officials said it is not yet clear if the activity indicates a sixth nuclear test is imminent, but noted there is concern that North Korea could set off a test during Wednesday's visit to Washington by top Chinese diplomats and military officials.

The military said the missile, a Hyunmoo-2 with a range of up to 800 kilometers (nearly 500 miles), hit its target accurately.

Outside observers say Pyongyang's space programme is a fig leaf for weapons tests.

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