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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

North Korea readies missile launch ahead of US-South Korea drill: Report

Iran Press TV

Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:19AM

A South Korean newspaper has claimed that the North is "highly likely" preparing to test-launch a ballistic missile prior to an upcoming joint naval drill by Washington and Seoul.

The Donga Ilbo daily, citing a government source, said on Saturday that satellite pictures showed ballistic missiles on launchers being transported out of hangars near the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, and in North Phyongan Province.

The newspaper said US and South Korean military officials suspect the North might be preparing to launch missiles capable of reaching US territory.

There are speculations that the launch pertained to the Hwasong-14 inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), whose range could extend to Alaska, or Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missiles, which Pyongyang threatened to fire at the US Pacific territory of Guam in August.

This comes a day after North Korea renewed a threat to fire missiles toward the US territory of Guam, warning that "reckless moves" by Washington would force Pyongyang to take action.

"We have already warned several times that we will take counteractions for self-defense, including a salvo of missiles into waters near the US territory of Guam," a report by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted Kim Kwang Hak, a researcher at the Institute for American Studies of the North Korean Foreign Ministry, as saying.

"The US military action hardens our determination that the US should be tamed with fire and lets us take our hand closer to the 'trigger' for taking the toughest countermeasure," Kim added.

The US and South Korea are set to hold a joint navy drill on October 16-26 in the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea, in a fresh show of force against North Korea amid escalating tensions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned that any military action against North Korea could trigger "devastating consequences" days after US President Donald Trump said diplomatic solutions would not work with North Korea.

The Western military alliance further urged a diplomatic solution to the Korean Peninsula crisis.

The United States and North Korea have been at loggerheads over Pyongyang's weapons and nuclear programs.

Pyongyang says it will not give up on its nuclear deterrence unless Washington ends its hostile policy toward the country and dissolves the US-led UN command in South Korea. Thousands of US soldiers are stationed in South Korea and Japan.

Tensions have recently significantly risen between North Korea and the US. The two countries have been trading threats of military action against one another, and there is a potential for a real armed conflict to erupt.

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