America has warned it “will not accept” a nuclear-armed North Korea as new intelligence data showed that the secretive state was preparing a fresh missile launch, which could take place in two weeks’ time.
The fresh developments increased the tension yet further yesterday in a game of diplomatic brinkmanship that seems destined to put Washington and Pyongyang on a collision course.
The US defence secretary, Robert Gates, used the opportunity of a security conference in Singapore to force home America’s view that North Korea’s recent nuclear test and missile launches were seen as a direct threat. “We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region or on us… we will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state,” he said.
North Korea has test-fired six missiles since detonating a nuclear device on Monday, with the latest being a short-range missile launch on Friday. In a statement, North Korea denounced its critics as “hypocrites” and warned of “adopting self-defensive countermeasures” if action were taken against it at the UN.
According to the South Korean news agency Yonhap, spy satellites have captured images that show the country is busy preparing more tests. The images appear to show an intercontinental ballistic missile being moved by train from the capital to a launch pad at Musudan-ri in the north-east of the country. The missile is thought to be a Taepodong-2, which is in theory capable of hitting US soil. The missile could be launched within two weeks. Other images show vehicle activity at test sites and Chinese fishing boats fleeing the area.