Tuesday 17 October 2017

North Korea preparing to launch ballistic missile that could be intercontinental, military chiefs in South say

Each missile and nuclear test gives Pyongyang invaluable information and allows big jumps in capability

The North Korean government has been testing ballistic missiles
The North Korean government has been testing ballistic missiles
A shot of a news bulletin showing Kim Jong Un

Samuel Osborne

North Korea is preparing to launch a ballistic missile, possibly an ICBM, South Korean military sources have said.

Seoul's defence ministry also measured North Korea's nuclear test at 50 kilotons, Yonhap news agency reported.

The detonation was the strongest ever from the North, which claimed the test was of a hydrogen bomb.

South Korea's defence ministry said in a parliament hearing it was still seeing signs North Korea planned to stage more ballistic missile launches, possibly including an intercontinental ballistic missile.

"We have continued to see signs of possibly more ballistic missile launches. We also forecast North Korea could fire an intercontinental ballistic missile," said Chang Kyung-soo, a defence ministry official.

The defence ministry was called by parliament to answer questions about North Korea's sixth and largest nuclear test that was carried out a day earlier.

Following US warnings to North Korea of a "massive military response," South Korea's military fired missiles into the sea to simulate an attack on the North's main nuclear test site.

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A shot of a news bulletin showing Kim Jong Un

In a series of tweets, US President Donald Trump threatened to halt all trade with countries doing business with the North, a veiled warning to China, and faulted South Korea for what he called "talk of appeasement."

Mr Trump, asked by a reporter during a trip to church if he would attack the North, said: "We'll see."

South Korea's military said its live-fire exercise was meant to "strongly warn" Pyongyang.

The target was set considering the distance to the North's test site and the exercise was aimed at practicing precision strikes and cutting off reinforcements, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Each new North Korean missile and nuclear test gives Pyongyang's scientists invaluable information that allows big jumps in capability.

North Korea is thought to have a growing arsenal of nuclear bombs and has spent decades trying to perfect a multistage, long-range missile to eventually carry smaller versions of those bombs.

Both diplomacy and severe sanctions have failed to check the North's nuclear ambitions.

Independent News Service

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