Satellite images obtained by US spy agencies showed North Korea moving its ballistic missiles out of hangars, possibly in preparation for fresh launches ahead of a US-South Korea joint naval exercise, a South Korean newspaper claimed on Friday (13 October), citing a government source.
The ballistic missiles — suspected to be the Hwasong-14 inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) and or Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) — were being mounted on launchers and transported out of hangars near Pyongyang and the North Phyongan Province, the publication reported.
"The North may carry out a simultaneous launch of ICBM and IRBM within a few days in protest against the US' show of military might," the Dong-A Ilbo paper quoted a source as saying, according to the Daily Mirror.
The US recently flew its B-1B bombers over the Korean peninsula in a show of force against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's threats of striking the US mainland. The two supersonic bombers staged the first night-time joint aviation exercises with Japan and South Korea in the region.
The US' 7th Air Force is also sending an elaborate air fleet comprising a B-1B lancer jet and other key defence assets to South Korea to participate in an upcoming international air show.
US Navy strike group, the USS Ronald Reagan, recently concluded a joint drill in the Korean peninsula as a show of force. The navy is now scheduled to begin another joint drill with the South Korean military on Monday (16 October) in the East Sea and the Yellow Sea, also known as the West Sea. The navy reportedly confirmed on Friday that a US aircraft carrier will lead the drill in the coming week.
The Pyongyang regime has been warning the US against such joint military exercises in the region, threatening to bomb the US and its territory in the Pacific, the Guam Island.
The upcoming events are expected to further anger the regime, which is accused of provocations through missile and nuclear tests.
Meanwhile, a South Korean defence ministry spokesman declined to comment on the Dong-A Ilbo report, AFP news agency wrote.
"We don't comment on any matters of military intelligence. We are keeping a close watch over the North," the spokesman told the news agency.