N. Korea preparing another test launch: CNN report

SEOUL • North Korea is said to be preparing for another test launch of a ballistic missile with an intercontinental or intermediate range in the next two weeks, according to latest US intelligence.

Satellite imagery suggests that Pyongyang could be testing components and missile control facilities in the run-up to a launch, CNN reported on Wednesday, quoting two US administration officials.

However, assessment by US intelligence shows it remains in the early stages, according to CNN.

On Tuesday, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Paul Selva said North Korea does not have the ability to strike the United States with "any degree of accuracy" and while its missiles have the range, they lack the necessary guidance capability, Reuters reported.

"What the experts tell me is that the North Koreans have yet to demonstrate the capacity to do the guidance and control that would be required," said General Selva, the second highest-ranking US military official, according to Reuters.

South Korea's intelligence agency also does not believe the North has secured re-entry capabilities for its intercontinental ballistic missile programme.

Still, the missile had the range to reach the US and the deployment of the North's missile systems could be difficult to monitor because the country is "very good" at hiding them, Gen Selva told a Senate hearing, Yonhap news agency reported.

The CNN report also said North Korea is seen as carrying out an "unusual level" of submarine activity and the testing of a critical component of a missile that could be launched from a submarine.

Pentagon spokesman Gary Ross declined to comment on the CNN report about the North's possible missile launch in two weeks, saying he is unsure of its origin.

Meanwhile, Pyongyang has yet to respond to Seoul's offer of military talks slated for today, but said it is "nonsense" for the South to hope for better ties between the two countries while keeping a confrontational policy, Yonhap said.

The South's Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang Gyun said preparations were still on in case the proposed meeting goes ahead.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2017, with the headline 'N. Korea preparing another test launch: CNN report'. Print Edition | Subscribe