Amid Pyongyang Bluster, Missile Launch Feared
Missile and launch components have been moved to the east coast of North Korea in the “last few days,” a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the information told CNN Thursday.
The apparent deployment comes amid further threatening statements by North Korea and heightened tensions in the region — a situation that “does not need to get hotter,” a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said.
The move of the missile and launch equipment could mean that Pyongyang, which unleashed another round of scathing rhetoric accusing the United States of pushing the region to the “brink of war,” may be planning a missile launch soon.
The components, the official said, are consistent with those of a Musudan missile, which has a 2,500-mile range, meaning it could threaten South Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia.
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The United States has been looking for a hidden North Korean east coast launch site or mobile launchers, a concern because a launch from the east coast would go over Japan, the official said.
It is believed a missile launch would be a “test” launch rather than a targeted strike. That is because it appears the North Koreans have only moved the components so far. The United States is waiting to see whether North Korea issues a notice to its airmen and mariners to stay out of the region.
Communication intercepts in recent days also seem to show that Pyongyang might be planning to launch a mobile ballistic missile in the coming days or weeks, another U.S. official said.