Activity at North Korea's Sohae Satellite Launching Station and Long-Range Rocket Facility are rising following what Pyongyang has described as a 'very important test' of a rocket engine.

Iran Press/Asia: The move comes amid growing speculation that Pyongyang is poised for a major provocation amid stalled nuclear talks with the US.

“The research successes being registered by us in defense science one after another recently will be applied to further bolstering up the reliable strategic nuclear deterrent of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said in a short dispatch.

It said that the test had been conducted at the North’s “Sohae Satellite Launching Ground from 22:41 to 22:48” on Friday. 

Earlier this month, a senior North Korean official threatened earlier to deliver a “Christmas gift” to the United States, a remark that stirred concern that Pyongyang planned to escalate its confrontation with Washington.

Friday's test came about a week after the North conducted what it called "a very important test" at the satellite launch site last Saturday, sparking concern that the communist nation could be preparing to launch a long-range rocket, Yonhap reported.

A South Korean military official told local television network SBS, that North Korea knows its activities are being exposed to US and South Korea military authorities, and by mobilizing vehicles and equipment hinting at provocation by sending a message.

The North Korean announcement suggests that the country is preparing to do something to provoke the United States if Washington doesn’t back down and make concessions in deadlocked nuclear negotiations.

On Thursday US officials have warned North Korea against serious provocations, after they estimated that continued activity in North Korea Missile Facility shows that they are trying to launch a new long-range missile capable of reaching the continental United States.

South Korean television network JTBC reported Friday US special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun will visit the South on Sunday for a three-day trip. Biegun's visit is raising the possibility he could visit the border village of Panmunjom and make contact with the North Koreans.  101/211/205

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