TOKYO / WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Japan detected radio signals suggesting North Korea might be preparing another ballistic missile launch, although such signals are not unusual and satellite images showed no recent activity, a report said on Tuesday. source of the Japanese government.
After firing missiles at a rate of approximately two or three per month from April, North Korea's missile launches stopped in September, after it fired a rocket that pbaded over the northern island of Hokkaido in Japan.
"This is not enough to determine (if a launch is likely soon)," the source told Reuters.
Japanese news agency Kyodo reported on Monday night that the Japanese government was on alert after detecting such radio signals, suggesting that the launch could arrive in a few days. The report also said that the signals could be related to the winter military training of the North Korean army.
North Korea is carrying out its nuclear weapons and missile programs in defiance of sanctions by the UN Security Council and has not concealed its plans to develop a missile capable of reaching the continental United States. UU He has fired two missiles on Japan.
South Korean news agency Yonhap, citing a South Korean government source, also reported that intelligence officials from the United States, South Korea and Japan had recently detected signs of a possible missile launch and had been in maximum alert.
South Korea's Unification Minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, told reporters on Tuesday that there were "notable" moves from the North since his missile launch in mid-September, but there was no hard evidence of yet another test. nuclear or missile.
"North Korea has not been conducting new nuclear or missile tests, but recently we've seen them testing engines constantly and running fuel tests," Cho said at a media event in Seoul.
"But we need more time to see if they are directly related to missiles and nuclear tests."
When asked about media reports, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning told reporters that the United States was still watching North Korea very closely.
"This is a diplomatically directed effort on this point, backed by military options," he said.
"The Republic of Korea and the alliance of the United States remain strong and capable of countering any provocation or North Korean attack."
Two US government sources familiar with official badessments of North Korea's capabilities and activities said that although they were not immediately familiar with recent information suggesting that North Korea was preparing to launch a new missile test, the government from the USA UU You would not be surprised if such a test were carried out in the very near future.
Other US intelligence officials UU They noted that North Korea had deliberately sent misleading indications of preparations for nuclear and missile tests, partly to mask actual preparations, and partly to test the US. UU And allied intelligence in its activities.
South Korea Cho said North Korea can announce the completion of its nuclear program within a year, as it is moving faster than expected in the development of its arsenal.
North Korea defends its weapons programs as a necessary defense against US plans UU To invade. The United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, denies such an intention.
Nobuhiro Kubo's report in TOKYO, Phil Stewart, Mark Hosenball and John Walcott in WASHINGTON, Soyoung Kim and Christine Kim in SEOUL; Written by Linda Sieg; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Nick Macfie