S. Korea detects no notable sign of N.K. preparation for ICBM launch
SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's military has detected no notable sign of North Korea preparing for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, a Seoul official said Thursday, amid concerns about the nuclear-armed nation's veiled threat to break its moratorium on strategic provocation.
The recalcitrant and unpredictable Kim Jong-un regime launched what it calls the "Hwasong 12-type intermediate- and long-range ballistic missile" on Sunday, stoking worries it could engage in more provocative actions down the road, such as an ICBM test likely under the disguise of a satellite launch.
"At this point, there isn't any notable change or activity (in the North)," the military official said on condition of anonymity, when asked if there have been any indications of preparations for an ICBM launch.
Since the start of this year, Pyongyang has conducted seven known rounds of missile tests. Sunday's launch marked the North's biggest weapons test since its ICBM test in November 2017.
Some observers said that the North could stage a major show of force in time for its key national holidays -- the 80th birthday of current North Korean leader's late father Kim Jong-il, on Feb. 16 and the 110th birthday of his late grandfather Kim Il-sung on April 15.
Instead of firing a long-range missile launch, the North could also stage a military parade to showcase an assortment of formidable weapons systems during either of the two national holidays, observers said.
Last month, another South Korean military official told reporters that the North appears to be making preparations for a military parade, which he said were in their "early stage."
During Thursday's regular press briefing, Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesperson Col. Kim Jun-rak said the intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States are keeping close tabs on North Korea's military movements related to its nuclear military facilities.
"But there has been no noteworthy change thus far," Kim said.
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