North Korea said to be preparing for another ballistic missile test launch, says CNN

A North Korean ICBM which was launched on July 4, 2017.
A North Korean ICBM which was launched on July 4, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

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 suggested that Pyongyang could be testing components and missile control facilities in the run-up to a launch, CNN reported on Wednesday (July 19), quoting two US administration officials.

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

North Korea launched a ballistic missile on July 4 which marked its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) potentially capable of reaching the mainland United States.

On Tuesday, US 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 North Korea has secured re-entry capabilities for its ICBM 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, General Selva told a Senate hearing, Yonhap news agency reported.

The CNN report also said that 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 North Korea's possible missile launch in two weeks, saying he is unsure of its origin.

"I would not stay up tonight," he said by phone to Yonhap news agency.