Is North Korea Planning a Long-Range Missile Launch?

Katie RamirezJan 20, 2017

In his New Year's speech, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the country was close to testing an ICBM and would go on to conduct a series of nuclear and missile tests throughout the year.

That South Korean intelligence has spotted ICBMs on road-mobile launchers, thus, isn't entirely unsurprising, even though it is a deeply concerning development after North Korea's claimed thermonuclear warhead validation test in September 2016.

The missiles are believed to be shorter variations of the KN-08 and KN-14 ICBMs, prototypes presented in past military parades.

Officials told Yonhap News Agency that Pyongyang likely leaked the news on objective as a "strategic message" to the incoming Donald Trump administration.

"It was different from a conventional Musudan missile in its length and shape". "But as we saw in 2016, there's certainly a variety of active missile programs underway in North Korea". "It is possible they were moving it somewhere for assembly", the source said, according to Reuters.

North Korean state news agency KCNA reported on Thursday on the first inspection of North Korean troops carried out by the young dictator this year, who urged them to be always prepared for action and to focus only on combat.

"I don't recognise the missiles from this description", said Joshua Pollack, editor of the US -based Nonproliferation Review.

The latest and supposedly the new upgrade of the ICBM, placed on mobile launchers, is believed to be kept hidden until it is fired, making it significantly more hard to track or stop such missile launches.

Washington-based monitoring project 38 North said on Thursday that activities at North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear facility appeared to have been "stepped up".

The normal range for an ICBM is about 3,400 miles, and experts say that if Pyongyang does conduct a launch, its range will be less than half of that figure, about 1,550 miles.

Soon after, Trump declared on Twitter North Korea's development of a nuclear weapon "won't happen!" "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 become increasingly bold in touting its nuclear capabilities.

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