MOSCOW • North Korea is preparing to test a long-range missile which it believes can reach the west coast of the United States, says a Russian lawmaker who just returned from a visit to Pyongyang.
Mr Anton Morozov, a Member of the Lower House of Parliament's international affairs committee, and two other lawmakers visited the reclusive state last week, Russia's RIA news agency reported, adding that they participated in "high-level" meetings.
"They are preparing for new tests of a long-range missile. They even gave us mathematical calculations that they believe prove that their missile can hit the west coast of the US," RIA quoted Mr Morozov as saying on Friday.
And "they intend to launch one more long-range missile in the near future. And in general, their mood is rather belligerent", he added.
Tensions have risen in recent weeks over North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programmes as Pyongyang has test-fired several missiles and held what it said was a test explosion of a hydrogen bomb as it advances towards its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.
Mr Morozov's comments drove up the price of US Treasury bonds as investors, worried about the prospect of new missile tests, moved into assets the market views as a safe haven in times of uncertainty.
"There is a clarity of purpose in what (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un is doing. I don't think he's done," said Mr Yong Suk Lee, the deputy assistant director of the CIA's Korea Mission Centre, which was set up this year.
"In fact, I told my own staff (that) Oct 10 is the Korean Workers Party founding day. That's Tuesday in North Korea, but Monday - the Columbus Day holiday - in the US. So stand by your phones."
China, North Korea's main ally, has backed sanctions against Pyongyang and yesterday, in response to the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said it backed a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons.
"China has always supported a complete and total ban on nuclear weapons, but also believes that the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament cannot be achieved overnight and must advance gradually within the existing disarmament mechanism. China is willing to work with all parties to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world," said the Chinese Foreign Ministry.