North Korea may be preparing another missile test

This picture taken and released on July 4, 2017, by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (right) reacting after the test-fire of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 at an undiscl
This picture taken and released on July 4, 2017, by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (right) reacting after the test-fire of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 at an undisclosed location. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL • Speculation intensified yesterday that North Korea is preparing another missile launch to coincide with a military anniversary, just weeks after conducting its first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that experts warned could reach Alaska.

US and South Korean media reports cited intelligence and military officials as saying that transporter vehicles carrying launching equipment had been seen on the move.

The test - which both Seoul and Washington officials warned could be of another ICBM - could coincide with the 64th anniversary of the end of the Korean War on July 27, reports said.

This is a public holiday and celebrated as Victory Day.

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"Movements by transporter erector launchers carrying (ICBM) launch tubes have been continuously observed in North Pyongan (province)," a South Korean government source was quoted as saying by the country's Yonhap news agency.

"There is a high possibility that the North may carry out (the test-launch) around the July 27 armistice day."

In 2014, the North marked the armistice anniversary by firing a Scud-B short-range missile on July 26.

Yonhap also cited a South Korean military source as saying Pyongyang may be preparing to test a new type of ICBM or an intermediate-range missile.

With tensions high over the North's missile testing and threats against the United States, the US military is preparing to conduct another test of a missile-intercept system in Alaska, the Pentagon said.

Pentagon spokesman, navy Captain Jeff Davis, said a routine test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) system had been scheduled to go ahead soon.

A notice to mariners put out by the US Coast Guard said that the test could occur as soon as Saturday.

Thaad is designed to intercept and destroy short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight.

Thaad is not designed to stop an ICBM.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2017, with the headline 'N. Korea may be preparing another missile test'. Print Edition | Subscribe