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North Korea ready for missile test as drill approaches

Kim Jong Un-led North Korea conducted its most powerful nuclear test on Sept 3, and has launched more than dozen missiles this year

Agencies 

Kim Jong Un, North Korea
Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader of North Korea. (Photo: Reuters)

South Korean military officials are readying for another possible missile launch by Pyongyang as they prepare for a joint military drill with the on the disputed peninsula this week.

Multiple South Korean media reports citing unidentified military officials on Saturday and Sunday said North Korean missile vehicles “kept appearing and disappearing” from the map and “transporter erector launchers”  had been spotted carrying ballistic missiles from near Pyongyang and North Pyongan province.

A joint military drill between the and will be held from Monday through Friday, Yonhap reported Sunday, citing an unidentified military source who said Pyongyang was ready to fire missiles “any time.”

“Anything could happen especially before China’s party convention on October 18 and during the time between post-drills and Trump’s visits in the region,” said Shin Beomchul, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul. “There is also the possibility for to test shorter-ranged ballistic missiles, which in the past did not lead to UN sanctions.” Historically, the North had tended not to provoke directly during the military drills.

North Korea’s state-run media agency KCNA on Saturday criticised the joint military exercise, calling it a “reckless act of war maniacs.” Earlier, the White House said President will travel to Asia from November 3-14, during which he will visit and possibly the demilitarised zone that separates the two Koreas.

As part of this week’s drill, the has deployed the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to The nuclear-powered submarine Michigan is also likely to take part.

conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3, and has launched more than a dozen missiles this year as Kim Jong Un’s regime seeks the capability to hit the continental with an atomic weapon. The United Nations has imposed stringent sanctions on for its weapons tests.

Meanwhile Secretary of State said Sunday that President had instructed him to continue diplomatic efforts to calm rising tensions with North Korea, saying "those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first 
bomb drops."

First Published: Mon, October 16 2017. 01:57 IST
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