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No indications of imminent ICBM launch at N. Korean launch site: 38 North

All News 07:13 January 16, 2017

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (Yonhap) -- Recent satellite imagery shows no indications that North Korea is close to carrying out its threat to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile, but the communist nation is capable of conducting a launch at any time, a U.S. website monitoring the North said.

"While North Korea threatens to test an intercontinental ballistic missile ... commercial satellite imagery from November 2016 through January 2017 of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station provides no evidence of an imminent launch or engine test," 38 North said in a recent report.

"However, the site does remain capable of conducting a launch or engine test at any time and with little warning," it said, adding that activity at the Sohae launch facility over the past three months indicates both long-term preparations for an engine test and further infrastructure developments, including the paving of roads, constructing support and warehouse facilities, and continuing housing development.

No indications of imminent ICBM launch at N. Korean launch site: 38 North - 1

The Sohae site, also known as the "Tongchang-ri" site in the North's northwest, is where the North's main rocket launch facilities are. The North has carried out a series of long-range rocket launches from the sites, including two successful ones that put a satellite into orbit in late 2012 and again in February last year.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in his New Year's Day address that the country has entered the final stage of preparation to test-fire an ICBM, a thinly veiled threat that Pyongyang is close to developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the continental U.S.

U.S. officials said the country is fully capable of defending itself and allies against North Korean missiles, with Defense Secretary Ash Carter saying the U.S. would shoot down a missile if it were coming toward the U.S. or allies.

Incoming President Donald Trump has also vowed to stop the North from mastering ICBM capabilities, saying Pyongyang's development of a missile capable of striking the U.S. "won't happen."

jschang@yna.co.kr
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