Is North Korea Planning a Long-Range Missile Launch?

South Korea warns of new round of North's provocations
Is North Korea Planning a Long-Range Missile Launch?

20 January, 2017

In his New Year's speech, leader Kim Jong Un said North Korea was close to test launching an ICBM, and state media has said a launch could come at any time.

The United States has seen indications that North Korea may be preparing for a new missile test-launch in the coming days or weeks, USA officials said on Thursday, in what could be an early test of President-elect Donald Trump's administration.

South Korea's joint chief of staff, Roh Jae-cheon, told a news briefing the reports could not be confirmed, but that the military was monitoring the situation.

Earlier in the day, Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency reported that South Korean and USA intelligence authorities detected circumstantial signs that Pyongyang developed two new missiles presumed to be ICBMs.

The two missiles are estimated to be no longer than 15 metres long, making them shorter than the North's existing ICBMs.

Officials told Yonhap News Agency that Pyongyang likely leaked the news on goal as a "strategic message" to the incoming Donald Trump administration. "But as we saw in 2016, there's certainly a variety of active missile programs underway in North Korea".

"It was different from a conventional Musudan missile in its length and shape". A road-mobile ICBM could be kept hidden or on the move until fired.

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"If they do something, it would more likely be a test of Trump than a test of a delivery system", the official said.

"It's also possible that they are simply conducting field exercises with no plans to launch, or the option to launch if decided", said Pollack.

"I don't recognise the missiles from this description". The president-elect will be sworn-in as the 45th president of the United States in an inauguration ceremony January 20, and North Korea's missile test could be timed to coincide with the ceremony.

While this story talks about the test being of a long-range missile (an intercontinental range ballistic missile (ICBM)) the few details that have been made public don't seem to support that-although not much is known at this point.

Pointing to multiple state media reports, she showed that repeated engine and heat-shield tests, as well as the demonstration of a nuclear warhead, meant that "flight tests" would be next on the North's development path.

North Korea has defiantly continued its nuclear-weapons development, despite sanctions and global outcry.

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