North Korea may be preparing for another ballistic provocation as President Donald Trump prepares to head to Asia, South Korea’s spy agency revealed Tuesday.
The regime has not conducted a nuclear or missile test in over a month and a half, but high levels of activity around missile research facilities near the North Korean capital have observers concerned, Reuters reports.
“There is a possibility of a new missile launch given the active movement of vehicles around the missile research institute in Pyongyang,” South Korea’s National Intelligence Service said at a briefing Tuesday, adding, “The North will constantly push for further nuclear tests going forward, and the miniaturization and diversification of warheads.”
North Korea has twice fired two Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missiles into the Pacific from locations near Pyongyang. The North has not yet launched its Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile along a minimum energy trajectory, although experts argue that this would be a logical next step to determine its effectiveness under normal conditions.
North Korea is, according to a CNN report, developing an advanced version of the Hwasong-14 ICBM, a weapon that many leading weapons experts assess can strike parts, if not most, of the continental U.S.
Pyongyang could also be considering additional nuclear tests, as it has threatened on multiple occasions. The Punggye-ri nuclear test site reportedly sustained damage during the most recent nuclear test, which involved a staged thermonuclear weapon that produced an explosive yield far greater than anything the regime has previously tested. At the same time, there are additional tunnels which could potentially be used for another provocative nuclear test. North Korea could also test a nuclear weapon above ground.
Despite intelligence reports on North Korean activities, it is often difficult to predict North Korea’s provocations.
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