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    The intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 is seen in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 5, 2017. Earlier this month, intelligence experts said they believed Ukrainian aerospace companies may have engaged in the transfer of missile technology to Pyongyang.

    North Korean Missiles Moved from Research Center Ahead of Likely New Launch

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    North Korea’s upcoming national holidays, combined with intelligence from South Korean and US sources that Pyongyang has recently moved missiles from a research and development facility, have experts warning that a new weapons test of some sort by the country may be imminent.

    The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has a history of testing weapons to mark major holidays, and one is coming up on Party Foundation Day, October 10, the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the ruling Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK). According to the South Korean presidential residence, Cheong Wa Dae, the date may provide an opportunity for North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons developers to test the next iteration of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which has long been Pyongyang’s stated goal. 

    US and South Korean intelligence sources told Seoul’s Korean Broadcasting System on Friday that North Korean missiles were recently transported from a research and development site, a sign test preparations may be underway, they said.

    Seven years ago, October 10 was also the day the young leader Kim Jong-un made his formal public debut, during what is widely believed to be one of the largest military parades the DPRK has ever put on.

    South Korean spy agencies tell the Korea Times that the DPRK may conduct an intercontinental ballistic missile test “on a standard trajectory” toward the North Pacific on that date this year. July saw North Korea launch two ballistic missiles while on September 3 Pyongyang conducted its sixth nuclear weapons test.

    Meanwhile, some key actors are struggling with the question of who even is the present leader in Pyongyang. US President Donald Trump proved he doesn’t know the difference between Kim Jong-un, 33, and the late Kim Jong-il, Jong-un’s father, who died in 2011, in a series of tweets Sunday.

    Taking a swipe at Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in response to a September 30 New York Times story titled, “US in Direct Communication With North Korea, Says Tilllerson,” the president tweeted, “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man … Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”

    The New York Times had reported on Tillerson’s comments in Beijing, which “marked the first sign that the Trump administration has been trying its own version of what the Obama administration did with Iran: using a series of backchannels, largely secret communications that, after years of negotiation, resulted in a nuclear accord.”

    Trump raised questions in observers’ minds as to whether he knew the difference between father Kim Jong-il and son Kim Jong-un.

    “Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed and Obama failed. I will not fail!” Trump tweeted early Sunday morning. Kim Jong-un, 33, would have been just eight years old when the negotiations Trump is supposedly referring to began. Kim Jong-un only came to power in late 2011 following the death of Kim Jong-il.

    The Worker’s Party of Korea states as one of its Ten Fundamental Principles that the “We must pass down the great achievement of the revolution by the Great Leader comrade Kim Il-sung from generation to generation, inheriting and completing it to the end,” which observers have widely concluded serves as justification for the continued domination of the North Korean state by the Kim family. 

    October 4 marks another important day on the North Korean calendar, the Korea Times notes: the 10th anniversary of the second inter-Korean summit, during which the heads of the two states sat down for official discussions.

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    Tags:
    ballistic missile, Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il, Korean Peninsula
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