The South Korean intelligence service has told parliamentarians that the North could possibly develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the US mainland by the end of this year.
Yi Wan-young, a member of South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee which was briefed by the country’s National Intelligence Service told media about the content of the session on the developments in Pyongyang’s military program.
At the briefing, Seoul’s spy agency said there were no indications that the North aimed to conduct another nuclear test for the time being, adding that its informants and analysts were monitoring developments in the North closely, according to the lawmaker.
“The agency is closely following the developments because there is a possibility that North Korea could fire an array of ballistic missiles this year under the name of a satellite launch and peaceful development of space, but in fact to ratchet up its threats against the United States,” he added.
However, the intelligence service warned that the Punggye-ri nuclear complex in North Korea appeared to be ready for another detonation “at any time.”
Pyongyang sparked an international outcry in September, when it conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test involving a hydrogen bomb. It has also fired two missiles which flew over Japan before landing in the sea.
North Korea has remained defiant in face of international pressure and sanctions aimed at stopping its nuclear and missile programs, saying it needs to develop its missiles and nuclear weapons as a deterrent against plans by the US and its allies to invade the country.
Pyongyang says it will not give up on its nuclear deterrence until Washington stops its hostile policy toward the country.
The United States has 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war.
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