Japan puts military on alert for possible North Korean missile test
AFP photoJapan has put its military on alert for a possible North Korean ballistic missile launch after indications it is preparing for a test firing, while the United States has seen increased activity around a North Korean missile site, suggesting preparations for a possible space launch in the near future.
“Increased activity at North Korea’s missile site suggests that there may be a launch in the next few weeks,” told one of two sources with direct knowledge of the order to Reuters on Jan. 29, both of whom declined to be identified because they are not authorized to talk to the media.
Tension rose in East Asia this month after North Korea’s fourth nuclear test, this time of what it said was a hydrogen bomb.
A missile test coming so soon after the nuclear test would raise concern that North Korea plans to fit nuclear warheads on its missiles, giving it the capability to launch a strike against rival South Korea, Japan and possibly targets as far away as the U.S. West Coast.
A Japanese Defense Ministry spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, the United States has seen increased activity around a North Korean missile site, suggesting preparations for a possible space launch in the near future, U.S. officials told Reuters on Jan. 28.
The officials cited intelligence suggesting movement of components and propellant at North Korea’s Sohae satellite launch facility. A test could take place within a couple of weeks, they said.
“Our concern though is ... it’s the same technology to develop ICBMs [inter-continental ballistic missiles],” one of the officials said.
“We are keeping a close eye on these activities by the North Koreans. We’re watching 24/7,” a second official said.
Joe Bermudez, chief analytics officer at commercial intelligence firm AllSource Analysis, said open source imagery showed increased activity at the site in northwestern North Korea.
The finding was revealed as Washington shows growing concern that Pyongyang could use space technology to enhance its missile capability and while United Nations Security Council members discuss fresh sanctions against North Korea after it conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6.