North Korea conducts ‘crucial test’ at Sohae satellite launch site Dec 15, 2019 0 501 12345 AFPSeoulNorth Korea has conducted another “crucial test” at its Sohae satellite launch site, state media reported on Saturday, as nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington remain stalled with a deadline approaching.The announcement comes a day before US Special Envoy on North Korea Stephen Biegun is set to arrive in Seoul for a three-day visit, and after the United States tested a medium-range ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean on Thursday.“Another crucial test was successfully conducted at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground from 22:41 to 22:48 on December 13,” a spokesman for the North’s National Academy of Defence Science said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.The “research successes” will be “applied to further bolstering up the reliable strategic nuclear deterrent” of North Korea, the spokesman added.The statement did not provide further details on the test.Late on Saturday the Chief of the General Staff Pak Jon Chon said North Korea was using recent tests to develop new technologies and strategic weapons. “The priceless data, experience and new technologies gained in the recent tests of defense science research will be fully applied to the development of another strategic weapon,” he said in a statement, also carried by KCNA.Sohae, on North Korea’s northwest coast, is ostensibly a facility designed for putting satellites into orbit. But Pyongyang has carried out several rocket launches there that were condemned by the US and others as disguised long-range ballistic missile tests. The North is banned from firing ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolutions, and rocket engines can be easily repurposed for use in missiles.Frustrated by the lack of sanctions relief after three summits with US President Donald Trump, North Korea has vowed an ominous “Christmas gift” if the US does not come up with concessions by the end of the year.Some analysts have suggested the North may be referring to an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).Earlier this month the North announced it conducted what it called a “very important test” at the same site in Sohae.“It’s very likely that the North is going to fire something on Christmas day, and they may call it a rocket system when it actually is an ICBM,” Ahn Chan-il, a North Korean defector and researcher in Seoul, told AFP.“The tests at Sohae can be seen as a form of preparation for the launch -- whatever it will be -- on December 25.” - End-of-year deadline -North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had agreed to shutter the Sohae site during a summit last year with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang as part of trust-building measures.Kim has also held three meetings with US President Donald Trump since June 2018. But his nuclear negotiations with Washington have been deadlocked since a summit in Hanoi broke up in February, and Pyongyang has issued a series of increasingly assertive comments in recent weeks as its time limit approaches.The North this week criticised Washington as “foolish” for convening a UN Security Council meeting over growing concern about short-range rockets fired from the isolated state. Washington “decisively helped us make a definite decision on what way to choose,” North Korea’s foreign ministry spokesman said. RELATED ARTICLES 400 arrested in protests against Algerian election, rights group says Dec 15, 2019 0 677 Sudan’s court finds Bashir guilty on corruption charges Dec 15, 2019 0 488 Iraqi supporters of pro-Iran group protest US sanctions Dec 15, 2019 0 1025 UN condemns execution of 4 aid workers in Nigeria Johannesburg: The United Nations has condemned the reported killing of four Action Against Hunger aid workers who had been held hostage in Nigeria by suspected fighters of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). “I .. Five teenagers arrested over man’s death in Hong Kong protests Hong KONG: Five Hong Kong teenagers have been arrested in connection with the death of a man hit on the head by a brick during clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters last month, police said on Saturday. The .. 7 killed, 32 injured in two major road accidents in S Korea Seoul: At least seven people have been killed and another 32 injured in two major traffic pile-ups in South Korea, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported on Saturday. The first crash occurred early Saturday when .. US sanctions Lebanese businessmen for alleged support of Hezbollah DPA Washington The United States on Friday sanctioned a prominent Lebanese art collector and an associate for allegedly funnelling tens of millions of dollars to the pro-Iranian Hezbollah movement through money .. 17 killed in eastern Congo attacks: Army Bunia: Seventeen people have died in three attacks in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo hit by chronic unrest, the army and local observers said on Friday. Two of the attacks in Ituri province were attributed to the ..