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'Very High' Chance North Korea Will Soon Test Fire Missile

NPR icon by Mark Memmott
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Toru Yamanaka

North Korea's next provocative move — the test firing of a medium-range ballistic missile — could happen at any moment, according to South Korean officials.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that "the possibility of a ballistic missile launch is 'very high' and 'may materialize anytime from now,' South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se told lawmakers in Seoul today."

Bloomberg also notes that "any weapons test may coincide with the April 15 [next Monday] anniversary of state founder Kim Il Sung, the current leader's grandfather. North Korea last April 13 fired a long range rocket that disintegrated shortly after liftoff, then successfully launched another in December."

Officials from South Korea say the North has moved missiles and equipment to a launch site on its east coast. Any missile that's fired would most likely fly east — perhaps over Japanese territory — before falling into the Pacific.

Tuesday, as we reported, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command said Tuesday that American forces currently have the ability to intercept a North Korean ballistic missile if necessary.

As Reuters adds, "signs of anxiety ... remained notably absent in chilly Seoul, long used to North Korean invective under its 30-year-old leader Kim Jong-un. Offices worked normally and customers crowded into city-center cafes." That's what NPR's Frank Langfitt was reporting for us on Tuesday.

We've been tracking the tensions on the Korean peninsula in recent weeks. Our other posts are collected here.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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