Pyongyang has deployed one or two Musudan missile(s) (BM-25) near Wonsan, the eastern part of North Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported on Thursday.
Unnamed South Korean government sources told the agency the chances of a launch are high as this upcoming Friday is North Korean national founder Kim Il Sung’s birthday celebration.
“North Korea … has deployed a Musudan missile(s) (BM-25) in the vicinity of Wonsan’s Hodo Peninsula,” an anonymous government source told Yonhap News Agency.
“Given this fact, North Korea is likely to venture a launch on the occasion of Kim Il Sung’s birthday.”
South Korean Ministry of Defense (MND) said there is a chance of a launch, but refused to confirm or deny Yonhap’s report.
“On March 15 Kim Jong Un ordered the ‘conducting of the test of a nuclear warhead and a missile that can carry a warhead,'” said MND spokesperson Moon Sang-gyun on Thursday briefing.
“As an extension of this (order), the South Korean military is preparing for the chance of North Korea’s fifth nuclear test and ballistic missile launch, including the Musudan missile (BM-25),” the spokesperson said.
The news on the deployment of the Musudan missile (BM-25) near Wonsan came two days after CNN reported that U.S. intelligence satellites had spotted possible signs of North Korea’s next ICBM launch, and the report said the test would most likely be conducted using the Musudan missile (BM-25).
The missile’s range is estimated to be more than 3,500 kilometers, meaning it could hit Guam or parts of Alaska if launched from the North.
The MND spokesperson also declined to confirm CNN’s report.
“Nevertheless we see the potential (for the launch) and are consolidating the surveillance for the possible launch,” said Moon, adding that the North Korean government has not declared a no-sail zone with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) or South Korea.
The tension and worry of North Korea’s provocations often peaks around April 15 each year – which North Korea calls the “Day of the Sun.” This year, Kim Il Sung would have been 104.
North Korea launched its long-range rocket Unha-3 two days prior to the “Day of the Sun” in 2012, but the launch ended in failure. Also, as that year was the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth, Pyongyang conducted large formal military inspections on April 15, revealing new weapon systems.
However, in other years the North mostly remained quiet on the “Day of the Sun,” committing no provocations, with Kim Jong Un last year visiting Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to pay tribute to the national founder.
Featured image: Rodong Sinmun, North Korean short-range ballistic missile launch on March 10
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