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North Korea says long-range rocket engine tests successful

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, above, in an Oct. 10, 2015, file photo.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, above, in an Oct. 10, 2015, file photo. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of – North Korea says it has successfully conducted an engine test of a new intercontinental ballistic rocket it claims will strengthen its ability to stage nuclear strikes on the United States.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency released the news Saturday.

The move, if true, would be a big step forward for the North’s nuclear weapons program. But South Korean officials still say North Korea doesn’t yet have a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile, let alone the ability to arm it with a nuclear warhead.

WATCH: US, South Korea hold massive joint military exercise in response to North Korean nuclear threats

Click to play video: 'US, South Korea hold massive joint military exercise in response to North Korean nuclear threats' US, South Korea hold massive joint military exercise in response to North Korean nuclear threats
US, South Korea hold massive joint military exercise in response to North Korean nuclear threats – Mar 11, 2016

The North has threatened pre-emptive nuclear strikes against Washington and Seoul and fired short-range missiles and artillery into the sea in an apparent response to ongoing U.S.-South Korean military drills and tough U.N. sanctions imposed over an earlier nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

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