The Obama administration calculates it’s likely North Korea may test fire mobile ballistic missiles at any time, based on the most recent intelligence showing Pyongyang probably has completed launch preparations, a U.S. official said Tuesday.
‘Ready for launch’
According to the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the information, most of the information comes from satellite imagery, so it’s impossible to reach a definitive conclusion because the United States has no means to gather information on the ground. The official, along with a Pentagon official, said that the United States has been able to keep satellites over the suspected launch area for most of the past week.
Imagery has been impeded by some bad weather, which means there is less than perfect knowledge about what is happening on the ground. But based on what the United States has seen, the belief is that the missiles have received their liquid fuel and are ready for launch.
‘Torrent of dramatic threats’
After any launch, U.S. satellites and radars in the region would be able to calculate the trajectory of missiles within minutes and quickly conclude whether they are on a test path headed for open ocean or potentially headed for land areas such as Japan. The United States and Japan would then have to decide whether to try to shoot the missiles down, the officials said.
North Korea has unleashed a torrent of dramatic threats against the United States and South Korea in recent weeks, including that of a possible nuclear strike. But many analysts have cautioned that much of what Kim’s regime is saying is bluster, noting that it is believed to still be years away from developing an operational nuclear missile.
Will North Korea dare to fire those missiles at South Korea or its allies? Is a war likely to erupt soon?
Source: Barbara Starr, Jethro Mullen and Joe Sterling, CNN