North Korea may have conducted a solid-fuel rocket engine test in the last two days, according to a U.S. report.
Citing commercial satellite imagery released by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies on Tuesday, Voice of America(VOA) reported that such signs have been detected at the North's Magunpo rocket engine test facility in North Hamgyong Province.
Comparing images from Sunday and Monday, VOA said a field beside the facility's test pad was seemingly blackened from Monday morning, over an area stretching 120 meters, suggesting a burst of strong flames.
David Schmerler, senior research associate at the institute's James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, suggested that the test was likely for the North's missile program, since solid-fuel engines had not been used in its satellite development.
However, he did not rule out the possibility of a rocket propellant development for satellites, as solid-fuel technology can be applied in both satellite and ballistic missile launches.
Pyongyang previously claimed to have carried out a test on December 15 to verify its high-thrust solid-fuel motor capabilities at the Sohae satellite launch ground in North Pyongan Province.