North Korea preparing for another long-range missile test, South says

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North Korea is preparing to carry out another test of a long-range ballistic missile, the South’s spy agency told lawmakers on Monday. It added that the North is also capable of carrying out another nuclear test if it wishes to do so.

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) told lawmakers during a closed session that North Korea may be preparing to fire an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on a standard trajectory towards the North Pacific. Such a test would take it over Japan or Russia.

The Yonhap news agency reported that preparations for such a missile test had been detected, though specific details were not released. The National Intelligence Service said the ICBM test could be carried out around September 9, when North Korea celebrates the Day of the Foundation of the Republic.

North Korea test-fired two long-range missiles in July, including one which in theory is capable of reaching large parts of the U.S. mainland. North Korea’s missiles are typically fired into high altitudes to avoid reaching other countries, but on August 29 the North fired a missile that flew over northern Japan.

The suggestion of a third long-range missile test comes just a day after North Korea carried out a sixth nuclear test, leading to international condemnation and calls for new sanctions to impede North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

During Monday’s briefing, the NIS also told lawmakers that North Korea could carry out a seventh nuclear test at any time if it decides to do so. It said construction of a third tunnel had been completed at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and a fourth tunnel is in the final stages of completion, Yonhap reported.

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