North Korea is likely to launch ballistic missile: South Korea

North Korean intercontinental missile

North Korea is likely to launch an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), South Korean military officials said on Monday.

“There are no signs of an imminent test firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by North Korea. But we are closely monitoring any new military activities in the country as it could launch an IRBM at any time if leader Kim Jong-un gives the order,” a Defence Ministry said.

This year, North Korea has said that it was ready to fire off an ICBM, Yonhap News Agency reported.

In his New Year’s Day address, Kim said that the country has entered the final stage of preparations to test-fire an ICBM, an apparent threat that the communist state is close to developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the continental US.

Last week, Seoul and Washington picked up indications that the North has placed two ICBMs on mobile launchers, an indication that the test could come earlier than expected.

Pyongyang test-fired a total of eight IRBM between April and October last year, with only one flying any distance.