DPRK seems set to launch Musudan ballistic missile: S.Korean media

SEOUL – The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) seems set to launch another Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile after its estimated failure 11 days ago, Yonhap news agency reported Tuesday citing South Korean government officials.An unidentified official was quoted as saying that signs emerged for the DPRK to launch another Musudan missile, with which Pyongyang failed in its test-firing on April 15.Among the two Musudan missiles, which the DPRK forces put in place for the test-firing, the remaining one seems to have been on standby for another launch after the first one failed, the official said.On April 15, the DPRK launched a Musudan missile, capable of targeting part of the US territory such as Guam and the outer reaches of Alaska, from a mobile launcher.The launch was estimated by the Republic of Korea’s military to have failed as the missile disappeared from a radar screen several seconds after liftoff, indicating an explosion in mid-air.It marked the first time that the DPRK test-fired the mobile Musudan ballistic missile though it was an abortive launch. Pyongyang has allegedly deployed the missiles since 2007.Another government official was quoted as saying that the military authorities are seeing a high possibility for the DPRK to conduct the test-firing again of the Musudan missile in the near future.Concerns spread here about the DPRK’s another nuclear test and ballistic missile launch since top DPRK leader Kim Jong-un gave orders on March 15 to test a nuclear warhead and ballistic rockets capable of carrying the warhead.The DPRK’s official news agency reported on Sunday about the successful launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). The ROK’s military said that the missile, launched on Saturday, flew about 30 km and has partially advanced in its technology.The DPRK is feared to carry out its fifth nuclear test or another ballistic missile launch ahead of the historic ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) congress scheduled for early May, the first since 1980.Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-Kyun told a press briefing that the DPRK can conduct another nuclear test at any time when its leadership determines, saying Pyongyang can stage a surprise nuclear test at any time to implement Kim’s order on March 15.The ROK’s military has been closely monitoring the moves at a main DPRK nuclear test site in Punggye-ri in northeastern DPRK where all of the country’s four nuclear tests were conducted. The latest one happened in January this year.The movement of personnel and vehicles at the Punggye-ri test site has recently increased two to three times more than last month, indicating a preparation for another nuclear test. Some local media reported that the DPRK had already completed preparations for another test.