North Korea may be planning a second test of an intercontinental ballistic missile to mark its Victory Day national holiday on Thursday, the Australian government has been warned.
South Korean media are quoting military sources saying vehicles are moving missile launch tubes in North Pyongan province.
A US Defence official said if the North was readying itself for a test, it would “probably” occur on July 27, according to the news agency AFP.
“We are receiving these reports,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told ABC Radio.
“We’re taking these threats very seriously and working with other like-minded nations to ensure that there is peace and stability in the Korean peninsula,” she said.
“[North Korea is] constantly advancing its nuclear and missile programs and even a failed missile test provides it with useful data.”
This year’s Victory Day will mark 64 years since the armistice that effectively ended the Korean War.
The launch is expected to be similar to the recent July 4 test of the Hwasong-14 missile, which flew for 37 minutes before splashing down in the Sea of Japan.
That test prompted strong condemnation from world leaders, including US president Donald Trump.
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The ‘Washington Post’ reported that the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency now believes Kim Jong-un will have a reliable nuclear ICBM some time in 2018.
“I can’t confirm whether that assessment, that it will reach capacity in 2018 if left unchecked, is accurate,” Ms Bishop said.
But the foreign minister said it was North Korea’s “clear intention” to develop such a weapon that could strike Australia.
Ms Bishop called on China to review its economic sanctions against North Korea.
China remains the primary trading partner of the North, and Ms Bishop described the Asian superpower as the regime’s “chief financial backer”.
“It has much more leverage over North Korea than it claims,” she said.
“There’s much more that China can do.”
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