Significant preparations for another of North Korea's enormous displays of its armed forces and weaponry have been detected, raising anticipation that the world might get another rare glimpse of Pyongyang's road-mobile ICBM and other new, longer-range ballistic missiles, the Yonhap News Agency reported on Friday.
"Satellite imagery showed [short-range] Scud, [medium-range] Nodong and [intermediate-range] Musudan missiles installed on mobile launchers," an anonymous South Korean military insider told the news agency. "Considering the fact that nearly all ground force equipment was present, there is a possibility that its long-range KN-08 missiles could appear at the end of the parade."
The KN-08 missile was spotted for the first time at a spring 2012 procession. The missile is often described as an ICBM due to its size and dimensions, though it has never been test-fired so its military capability is unknown. Likewise, the Musudan missile is also not known to have been flight-tested.
The display could take place close to July 27, when the North is expected to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the end of Korean War hostilities.
The head of U.S. military forces in the Pacific on Thursday voiced skepticism about the threat of the Musudan and KN-08, absent any flight tests of the two missiles, Yonhap reported.
"At various stages of those capabilities, they have demonstrated or shown us something that looks like it might be real, but we have not seen, in the case of the Musudan or the case of the larger ICBM, have not seen a credible demonstration of that," U.S. Pacific Command head Adm. Samuel Locklear said at a press briefing.
It is also not clear if Pyongyang has figured out how to build nuclear warheads small enough to mount on missiles, the admiral said.
Meanwhile, top U.S. and Chinese officials in Washington talks this week were able to reach a firm agreement on the importance of denuclearizing North Korea, Agence France-Presse reported.
"I think there is a very strong consensus between us on ... the importance of the United States and China working together to ensure the D.P.R.K. lives up to its obligations," Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns said to journalists.
He also asserted that Beijing agrees with Washington it is not a good idea to hold talks "simply for the sake of" diplomacy.
However, visiting Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, in remarks to reporters, reiterated his government's frequent call "for the early resumption of the six-party talks." Those negotiations include China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States, and have not been held since late 2008.
The United States has said it will not return to negotiations until North Korea first makes concrete demonstrations of its willingness to end its nuclear weapons development.