International

'Very High' Chance North Korea Will Soon Test Fire Missile

Japan is on full alert ahead of an expected mid-range missile launch by North Korea, its defense minister said as the U.N. warned of a potentially 'uncontrollable' situation. A Japanese soldier walks past a missile launcher deployed in Tokyo. i i

hide captionJapan is on full alert ahead of an expected mid-range missile launch by North Korea, its defense minister said as the U.N. warned of a potentially 'uncontrollable' situation. A Japanese soldier walks past a missile launcher deployed in Tokyo.

Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images
Japan is on full alert ahead of an expected mid-range missile launch by North Korea, its defense minister said as the U.N. warned of a potentially 'uncontrollable' situation. A Japanese soldier walks past a missile launcher deployed in Tokyo.

Japan is on full alert ahead of an expected mid-range missile launch by North Korea, its defense minister said as the U.N. warned of a potentially 'uncontrollable' situation. A Japanese soldier walks past a missile launcher deployed in Tokyo.

Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea's next provocative move — the test firing of a medium-range ballistic missile — could happen at any moment, according to South Korean officials.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that "the possibility of a ballistic missile launch is 'very high' and 'may materialize anytime from now,' South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se told lawmakers in Seoul today."

Bloomberg also notes that "any weapons test may coincide with the April 15 [Monday] anniversary of state founder Kim Il Sung, the current leader's grandfather. On April 13 of last year, North Korea fired a long range rocket that disintegrated shortly after liftoff, then successfully launched another in December."

Officials from South Korea say the North has moved missiles and equipment to a launch site on its east coast. Any missile that's fired would most likely fly east — perhaps over Japanese territory — before falling into the Pacific.

On Tuesday, as we reported, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command said American forces currently have the ability to intercept a North Korean ballistic missile if necessary.

As Reuters adds, "Signs of anxiety ... remained notably absent in chilly Seoul, long used to North Korean invective under its 30-year-old leader Kim Jong-un. Offices worked normally and customers crowded into city-center cafes." That's what NPR's Frank Langfitt was reporting for us Tuesday.

We've been tracking the tensions on the Korean peninsula in recent weeks. Our other posts are collected here.

Update at 9:55 a.m. ET. Troops On "Increased Alert":

From Seoul, Frank adds that "both U.S. and South Korean troops are on increased alert as Northeast Asia braces" for a possible missile test. But, as he adds in a report for our Newscast Desk, "most South Koreans think the war talk is bluster and that any missile test would be designed to frighten the South into making concession and getting the U.S. to sit down for talks."

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