TOKYO/WASHINGTON, Nov 28 – Japan has detected
radio signals suggesting North Korea may be preparing for
another ballistic missile launch, although such signals are not
unusual and satellite images did not show fresh activity, a
Japanese government source said on Tuesday.
After firing missiles at a pace of about two or three a
month since April, North Korean missile launches paused in
September, after Pyongyang fired a rocket that passed over
Japan’s northern Hokkaido island.
“This is not enough to determine (if a launch is likely
soon),” the source told Reuters.
Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported late on Monday that the
Japanese government was on alert after catching such radio
signals, suggesting a launch could come in a few days. The
report also said the signals might be related to winter military
training by the North Korean military.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing a South Korean
government source, also reported that intelligence officials of
the United States, South Korea and Japan had recently detected
signs of a possible missile launch and have been on higher
Asked about the media reports, Pentagon spokesman Colonel
Robert Manning told reporters the United States continued to
watch North Korea very closely.
“This is a diplomatically led effort at this point,
supported by military options,” he said.
“The Republic of Korea and U.S. alliance remains strong and
capable of countering any North Korean provocations or attacks.”
Two U.S. government sources familiar with official
assessments of North Korean capabilities and activities said
that while they were not immediately familiar with recent
intelligence suggesting that North Korea was preparing to launch
a new missile test, the U.S. government would not be surprised
if such a test were to take place in the very near future.
Other U.S. intelligence officials noted North Korea has
previously sent deliberately misleading signs of preparations
for missile and nuclear tests, in part to mask real
preparations, and in part to test U.S. and allied intelligence
on its activities.