May 19, 2022 10:17
North Korea is preparing for an intercontinental ballistic missile test to coincide with U.S. President Joe Biden's visit to South Korea and Japan, a U.S. intelligence official said Tuesday.
"The things we have noticed in the past for a launch are the things we are noticing now," CNN quoted the official as saying. "North Korea appears to be preparing for a possible intercontinental ballistic missile test within the next 48 to 96 hours."
Biden arrives in South Korea on Friday.
The launch site under observation is near Pyongyang. The official would not detail specifics of the current imagery, "but typically, intelligence analysts look out for signs of scaffolding or other launcher equipment, fueling, vehicles and personnel," CNN added.
On Tuesday, the "Beyond Parallel" website of the U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies also said North Korea seems to be restoring the nuclear test site at Punggye-ri. "Continued activity outside and around the new portal for Tunnel No. 3 is observed in the satellite image," it said. The satellite image "offers a unique angled view of the new portal to the tunnel, as well as the destroyed portal and collapsed hillside further north."
"Refurbishment work and preparations at Tunnel No. 3 has been proceeding over the past three months, and presumably will be nearing completion for the oft-speculated seventh nuclear test," it added.
Asked in a press briefing Tuesday whether the North is likely to put on hold nuclear test due to coronavirus, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, "We have never seen the [North Korean] regime prioritize the humanitarian concerns of their own people over these destabilizing programs that pose a threat to peace and security in the Indo-Pacific and beyond, so I do not think there is any expectation of that."
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