South Korea says North prepares for possible ICBM launch

South Korean army's K-55 self-propelled howitzers are at positions during a military exercise in Paju, South Korea, near the border with North Korea, on Monday. (AP photo)

SEOUL -- South Korea detected that North Korea is continuing to prepare for a possible intercontinental ballistic missile launch, a move that would further raise tensions a day after it conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear detonation.

Chang Kyung-soo, acting chief of the defence ministry’s policy planning office, told lawmakers on Monday that North Korea was making preparations for a missile firing, but didn’t give a timeframe for a potential launch. The yen extended gains against the dollar after the news.

South Korea’s spy agency said there is a chance North Korea could fire an ICBM into the Pacific Ocean, adding that the isolated state was able to conduct a nuclear test at any time, the Yonhap news agency reported. North Korea had threatened last month to launch missiles toward Guam, which prompted warnings of retaliation from American military officials.

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