North Korea may be readying missile test, timing unclear

In his New Year's address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said that the country was in the "final stage" of preparations for ICBM test firing.

South Korea has voiced fears its nuclear neighbor may carry out yet another round of military provocations, including a rumored intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test soon, according to local media reports Thursday.

It has now been speculated that Pyongyang intentionally leaked information about its missiles in order to send a "strategic message" to the incoming Trump government.

"It was different from a conventional Musudan missile in its length and shape", a military source reportedly told South Korean media, referring to the Musudan intermediate-range missile which Pyongyang tested in 2016.

(An extended-range Nodong would still likely fall far short of intercontinental ranges.) Both the untested KN-08 and KN-14 have been seen on video and North Korea watchers - and certainly South Korean intelligence - have a fairly good idea of their dimensions. North Korea is under worldwide sanctions related to its nuclear program since 2006. A road-mobile ICBM could be kept hidden or on the move until fired.

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"I don't recognise the missiles from this description", Joshua Pollack, editor of the US-based Nonproliferation Review told the South China Morning Post.

Previously, Trump tweeted, "It won't happen!" about North Korea's race to develop a nuclear weapon to strike the US.

Making note of North Korea's 2013 plans to "refurbish and restart" its nuclear facilities, the report read, "We assess that North Korea has followed through on its announcement by expanding its Yongbyon enrichment facility and restarting the plutonium production reactor". "We are maintaining readiness under the judgement that the North can launch a missile at any time and any place if the North's leadership has determined", defense ministry deputy spokesperson Lee Jin-woo said in response to questions about the North's road-mobile ICBMs.

North Korea has long claimed that it is developing nuclear weapons as a deterrent against what it calls Washington's hostile policy towards Pyongyang.

  • Carlos Nash