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North Korea may fire ICBM toward North Pacific: spy agency

North Korea may fire an intercontinental ballistic missile toward the North Pacific as early as this week, Seoul’s spy agency was quoted as saying in a parliamentary briefing Monday.

In a closed session, National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon briefed lawmakers on indications that Pyongyang may be preparing to launch another ballistic missile, possibly an ICBM, around the anniversary of the regime’s foundation slated for Saturday, or the establishment of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea on Oct. 10.

National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon (Yonhap)
National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon (Yonhap)

“We were briefed that North Korea, watching the reactions of the international society, may make further provocative actions,” Rep. Kim Byung-kee of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea told reporters after the meeting.

He said the launch could involve the Pukguksung-3, a submarine-launched ballistic missile, or Hwasung-13/14 missiles which the North claims to be of the ICBM class.

“There is also a possibility that the regime may fire it toward the North Pacific on a standard trajectory,” the lawmaker explained.

In July, North Korea fired ballistic missiles, including two ICBMs, at a lofted angle to prevent them from crossing over other countries including Japan. But Pyongyang lobbed a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan last week.

The isolated communist regime has in the past marked key national anniversaries with shows of force ranging from a massive military parade to a weapons test.

The NIS also said that the latest detonation was conducted in a northern tunnel of the North’s nuclear site in the northeastern area where Pyongyang carried out three tests.

Since 2006, the North has conducted six nuclear tests, including two last year. The 2006 test was conducted in an eastern tunnel, which was later closed, and the fifth bomb was detonated in an auxiliary tunnel from the northern one in September 2016.

“As North Korea has completed the construction of the third tunnel and another one is under construction, it can carry out another nuclear test at any time,” the agency said.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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