Pyongyang may launch a mobile ICBM: CNN

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Pyongyang may launch a mobile ICBM: CNN

North Korea is highly likely to launch a medium or long-range ballistic missile for the first time from a mobile launcher, soon after South Korea’s legislative election on Wednesday, according to U.S. officials.

A CNN report late Tuesday said that U.S. intelligence satellites detected signs that North Korea is preparing to launch a mobile ballistic missile, which is most likely to be a Musudan missile, which could potentially hit Guam and Shemya Island in the outer reaches of Alaska’s Aleutian chain.

The U.S. officials said the missile could either be a KN-08, the mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles that have the capability to reach mainland United States, or a KN-14, a more precise version of the KN-08.

If the North carries out the launch, it would mark the first time that North Korea launched a longer range ballistic missile from a mobile launcher, which is seen as a top threat to Washington.

The road-mobile intercontinental missile would enable Pyongyang to quickly transfer the launcher throughout the country, making it difficult for the U.S. intelligence satellites to track the moves.

The North, which now faces the strongest-ever sanctions by the UN Security Council after its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and a long-range ballistic missile launch on Feb. 7, has disclosed its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in defiance of the UN Security Council resolution banning such developments.

After North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s order on March 15 to test a nuclear warhead and ballistic missile, the possibility of a fifth nuclear test has dramatically risen.

The data compiled by the Center for Strategic and International Studies suggests that the North’s fifth nuclear test, or mobile ballistic missiles test, is likely to come after South Korea’s April 13 election but before the North’s Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea, which will be held in the first week of May, the first time in 36 years.

“Historically, North Korea has responded with a missile or DMZ provocation within an average seven-day span before or after the legislative election event,” CSIS said in a report, adding that the finding excludes the Sunshine Policy period, which lasted from 2000 to 2004.

The Sunshine Policy was a policy of cooperation and understanding, initiated by President Kim Dae-jung, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000.

BY KIM SO-HEE [kim.sohee0905@joongang.co.kr]

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