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As tension rises, N. Korea seen moving missiles: report

Intercontinental ballistic missiles, Hwasong-15, are seen at a military parade marking the 70th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Army at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang in February 2018. (KCNA-Yonhap)
Intercontinental ballistic missiles, Hwasong-15, are seen at a military parade marking the 70th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Army at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang in February 2018. (KCNA-Yonhap)

North Korea, which recently cut off all communication with the South, was seen moving several missiles, a local newspaper reported Friday, citing unidentified US authorities familiar with the matter.

Several missiles were spotted atop transporter erector launchers, the road-mobile vehicles that elevate missiles to the firing position, in South Pyeongan Province, north of Pyongyang, where the North test-fired its first ICBM in 2017, the Donga Ilbo said.

It added the US authorities suspect, from what was seen there, Pyongyang could have up to six ICBMs and vehicles each.

After Pyongyang’s decision earlier this week to disconnect all hotlines with Seoul over the contentious anti-North leaflet launches, experts shared concerns over potential military aggressions from the North.

“North Korea could push ahead with a military provocation as soon as in August when Seoul and Washington hold joint drills, or in October to mark the 75th anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party,” Shin Beom-chul, director of the Center for Diplomacy and Security at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy,

Seoul officials however downplayed the missile activity, saying it could just be part of a preparation to showcase a new ICBM at the military parade on June 25, when the North commemorates the Korean War anniversary.

“A show of force by unveiling the ICBM at the parade is a highly likely option on the table,” said Hong Min, director of the North Korean division at the Korea Institute for National Unification.

A test-launch is unlikely soon, he added.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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