Seoul Unification Ministry spokeswoman Eugene Lee said on Friday that Pyongyang could hold its next ICBM tests this weekend or around October 10, another North Korean holiday marking the founding of its ruling party .
North Korea has previously marked key dates with displays of military power, but its evidence now appears to be driven by the need to improve missile capabilities.
The North has just emerged from its sixth and the most potent nuclear test to date on Sunday in what it claimed was a detonation of a thermonuclear weapon built for its ICBMs.
The country twice tested its development HBMS-14 ICBM in July and analysts say the flight data from the launches indicate that the missiles could cover a broad swath of the continental United States, including major cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago.
North Korea fired ICBMs at very soft angles in July to cut ranks and avoid other countries. But South Korean officials say the forthcoming launches could be carried out at close to operational angles as the North would try to test whether the warheads survive the harsh conditions of atmospheric reentry and detonate accordingly.
In Washington, President Donald Trump reiterated Thursday that military action is “certainly” an option against North Korea, as his administration coincided with the nation’s claim to have tested a hydrogen bomb.
A senior administration official said the United States was still evaluating the underground explosion last weekend, but so far he has not noticed anything inconsistent with Pyongyang’s claim.
“Military action would certainly be an option,” Trump told a news conference at the White House. “I’d rather not go down the military path, but it certainly could happen.”
Pressed on whether he could accept a scenario in which the isolated nation had nuclear weapons, but was “content and dissuaded,” Mr. Trump objected. “I do not put my negotiations on the table, unlike past administrations. I do not talk about them.
But I can tell you that North Korea is behaving badly and that it has to stop, “he said.
North Korea broke with its loft launch model last month when it fired a powerful new mid-range missile, Hwasong-12, over northern Japan. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said then that the launch was a “significant prelude” to contain the Pacific island territory of the United States of Guam and asked his military to carry out more ballistic missile launches to the Pacific Ocean.
South Korean experts say the launch was Pyongyang’s attempt to make missiles flying over Japan an accepted standard as it seeks to test new missiles in near-operational conditions and gain more military space in an enemy-dominated region.
Kim, a third-generation dictator in his 30s, has conducted four of North Korea’s six nuclear tests since taking office in 2011. His army has maintained a torrid rhythm in weapons testing, which also includes missiles from solid fuel built to be fired from road mobile launchers or submarines.
By accelerating its pursuit of nuclear weapons targeting the United States and allies of South Korea and Japan, Kim is seen as seeking a real element of nuclear deterrence to help ensure the survival of his government and also stronger bargaining power than would be derived from it.
Washington, Seoul and Tokyo have been pushing for stronger sanctions to punish Pyongyang for its nuclear activities, such as denying the country’s oil supplies. China and Russia have been calling for talks, saying sanctions are not working against North Korea.happy wheels
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