n korea

North Korea may be preparing to test missile

by HYUNG-JIN KIM, Yahoo News  |  published on April 8, 2013

A top South Korean national security official said North Korea may be setting the stage for a missile test or another provocative act with its warning that it soon will be unable to guarantee diplomats’ safety in Pyongyang. But he added that the North’s clearest objective is to extract concessions from Washington and Seoul.

North Korea’s warning last week followed weeks of war threats and other efforts to punish South Korea and the U.S. for ongoing joint military drills, and for their support of U.N. sanctions over Pyongyang’s Feb. 12 nuclear test.

The Pentagon has strengthened missile defenses and made other decisions to combat the potential threat. U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said Sunday that he doesn’t believe North Korea will engage in military action soon, “but I can’t take the chance that it won’t.”

Dempsey said the U.S. has been preparing for further provocations or action, “considering the risk that they may choose to do something” on one of two nationally important anniversaries — April 15, the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, and April 25, the creation of the North Korean army.

Tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang led South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to announce Sunday that its chairman had put off a visit to Washington. The U.S. military said its top commander in South Korea had also canceled a trip to Washington.

The South Korean defense minister said Thursday that North Korea had moved a missile with “considerable range” to its east coast, possibly to conduct a test launch. His description suggests that the missile could be the Musudan missile, capable of striking American bases in Guam with its estimated range of up to 4,000 kilometers (2,490 miles).

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