South Korean Officials Think North Korea May Be Preparing For Another Missile Launch

by Hannah Golden
Handout / Getty Images

In a week of tensions escalating across the Pacific Ocean, North Korea is allegedly preparing to launch another missile, according to South Korean officials. Throughout the year, the North has conducted numerous practice runs on their missiles, but it remained unclear that the regime of 33-year-old Kim Jong Un had developed the technology necessary to successfully reach the continental U.S. The U.N. held an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss how to handle the extraordinarily volatile situation.

For years, North Korea has been blunt about its development of a nuclear program on par with other world powers. But until now, it's been uncertain how far off, if ever, the North was from producing a missile that could reach the mainland. There are a few major hurdles needed to develop that technology. Not only does an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) need to be able to carry its warhead far enough, but it must also be able to survive re-entry into the atmosphere. After the most recent launches, it appears the North is getting closer and closer to meeting those requirements.

To handle these escalating provocations by the North, President Trump took to Twitter on Sunday and made threats of his own, in the form of economic sanctions.

At the emergency meeting Monday, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said that North Korea was "begging for a war," and urged harsh sanctions to dissuade further escalations. A South Korean ministry of defense official told lawmakers in Seoul on Monday that they believed the North may be preparing for another launch, though details were not given, nor was a timeframe, AP reports.

The report by South Korea comes after the North fired its latest missile this weekend, setting off a 6.3 magnitude earthquake and ratcheting up tensions between Asia and the U.S. further. In response to the launch, the South conducted live-fire exercises on Monday.

If reports prove to be accurate, it's not yet clear what kind of missile would be tested, but previous tests by North Korea have demonstrated that some missiles have the distance needed to put the Western U.S. within striking range, the New York Times reports. Comforting, right?