SEOUL • A major anniversary in North Korea today has raised concerns that the Kim Jong Un regime would mark the occasion by launching another missile, this time a long-range one.
A Russian lawmaker who just visited Pyongyang has been quoted as saying the North Koreans are preparing to test a long-range missile that they believe can reach the west coast of the United States.
In Seoul, military officials and security analysts also said Pyongyang could launch a test "any time soon".
"Although there is no imminent indication of provocations, we have noticed movements from some of North Korea's missile facilities and bases. As a result, we have maintained heightened surveillance and monitoring of the North," a military official said under the condition of anonymity, The Korea Herald newspaper reported.
US President Donald Trump, who warned at the weekend that "only one thing will work" in dealing with Pyongyang, posted another tweet yesterday. "Our country has been unsuccessfully dealing with North Korea for 25 years, giving billions of dollars and getting nothing. Policy didn't work!" he said.
Some view the comments as hinting at possible military action.
Yesterday, both Russia and China called for restraint on the Korean peninsula.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, when asked what Russia made of Mr Trump's comments, told a conference call with reporters: "Moscow has called and continues to call on the parties involved in the conflict, and on those who have anything to do with this issue, to exercise restraint and to avoid any steps that would only worsen the situation."
In Beijing, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman reiterated a call for all parties involved to exercise restraint, describing the situation as extremely complex and serious.
China hopes that all sides will do nothing to irritate each other or worsen the problem, and speak and act cautiously, Ms Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.
Oct 10 is a politically important date for North Korea, which will mark the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the ruling Korean Workers' Party in 1945.
This follows celebrations marked by parades and fireworks at the weekend to celebrate 20 years since Mr Kim's late father, Mr Kim Jong Il, became leader of the nation.
In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and held its sixth nuclear test, all in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions, and may be fast advancing towards its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.
Mr Trump has repeatedly made clear his distaste for dialogue with North Korea. Last week, he dismissed the idea of talks as a waste of time, a day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington was maintaining open lines of communication with the North's government.
North Korea has not conducted any test since it launched an intermediate ballistic missile over Japan on Sept 15 and tested what it said was a hydrogen bomb on Sept 3.
THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS