North Korea leader Kim guides new solid-fuel engine for hypersonic missile, KCNA says

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guided a ground test of a solid-fuel engine for a new type of intermediate-range hypersonic missile as part of a program of developing national defence capability, state news agency KCNA reported on Wednesday.

The test was conducted at the North's main Sohae satellite launch station near the west coast on Tuesday morning and afternoon, KCNA said.

"The great success" of the test allowed for the project to proceed under a timetable for completing the development of the new hypersonic IRBM," it said, using the short form for intermediate-range ballistic missile.

North Korea conducted a flight test of an intermediate-range hypersonic missile in January which it said at the time used a new solid-fuel engine and also tested the operation of a maneuverable warhead.

KCNA did not provide the specifics of the engine tested on Tuesday or the technical nature of the test.

Kim said "the military strategic value of this weapon system is appreciated as important as ICBM from the security environment of our state and the operational demand of the People's Army and enemies know better about it," it said.

ICBM refers to the intercontinental ballistic missile, which the North is developing with capability to strike the mainland United States.

(Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Chris Reese and Sandra Maler)