North Korea may be readying long-range missile launch soon

28 January 2016
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North Korea may be preparing to launch a long-range missile as soon as within a week, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported early on Thursday, citing an unnamed Japanese government official.

The official cited signs of possible preparations for a missile launch, based on analysis of satellite imagery of the North’s Tongchang-ri missile test site on its west coast.

The report came as UN Security Council members discuss fresh sanctions against the North after it conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6. The North is already under sanctions for its nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea last conducted a long-range rocket launch in late 2012, successfully putting into orbit an object it claimed was a communications satellite, in what experts saw as part of an effort to build an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok declined to comment on whether there were pre-launch activities at the site, citing a policy of not discussing intelligence matters. However, he said the North had issued no international warnings on navigation, as it has ahead of previous long-range rocket launches.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency cited a government source as saying there had been steady activity at the missile base, with screens set up at key areas, probably to deter spy satellite surveillance.

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