A North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile is moving toward the coast, according to South Korea’s spy agency.
Days after North Korea’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test, which possibly involved a staged thermonuclear device, the South Korean National Intelligence Service discovered that North Korea is moving its new Hwasong-14 ICBM, a weapon tested twice successfully in July, reports Asia Economy.
The North is moving the missile primarily at night to avoid regular detection.
North Korea revealed images of a new warhead for its ICBM Sunday, and a few hours later, the North tested an advanced nuclear device, presumably the warhead, given that the prior revelation enhances North Korea’s credibility. North Korea claims that it tested a hydrogen bomb. The explosive power of North Korea’s newest nuclear device is unclear, as estimates from various observers range from 50 to 150 kilotons.
South Korean intelligence suspects that North Korea will launch an ICBM over Japan into the Pacific Ocean to test its performance when fired on a minimum energy trajectory. Such a test would allow North Korea to observe how the weapon might perform in combat.
Such a provocative test would follow a launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan last week. The limited reaction to this aggressive test and the lack of consequences may encourage North Korea to launch more missiles into the Pacific Ocean, as the rogue regime already said it plans to do.
North Korea appears to be setting a precedent for a more provocative testing pattern.
Under Kim Jong Un’s leadership, the North has advanced its ballistic missile program at an accelerated rate, moving the country closer to the development of a viable nuclear deterrent against the U.S. and its allies.