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N.K. likely to fire more missiles, conduct nuke test: Seoul

All Headlines 14:51 July 31, 2017

SEOUL, July 31 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is likely to conduct an additional ballistic missile launch and its sixth nuclear test following its latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), South Korea's defense ministry said Monday.

"There is a possibility that North Korea is likely to test its nuclear warhead and missile capabilities through a nuclear test with more explosive power," the Ministry of National Defense said in a report to the National Assembly.

The ministry added that the North is ready to carry out another nuclear test at any time at its nuclear explosion site in the northeastern province.

The assessment came as the North claimed the successful launch of another ICBM late Friday following its similar test in early July. Pyongyang insisted that the whole U.S. mainland is within its striking range.

After the missile test, President Moon Jae-in called for deploying the remaining four interception missile launchers of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system's total six launchers.

The South previously suspended the deployment until an environmental assessment of the battery is finished.

Touching on a revision on a missile guideline, the ministry said that it will accelerate its consultation with the U.S. by forming a working-level bilateral committee.

South Korea said Saturday that it and the United States have agreed to open negotiations to revise a bilateral ballistic missile guideline, a move to allow Seoul to develop a more powerful missile to counter the North's provocations.

Seoul will be able to develop a missile with a range of over 800 kilometers and a payload exceeding 500 kilograms if the guideline is revised.

"Later, the two sides will continue consultations after expanding them to the state level," the ministry said.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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