WASHINGTON — North Korea may be preparing to test an intercontinental ballistic missile in the coming days, three military officials told NBC News, defying the new sanctions imposed by the United Nations this week.
In the last 72 hours, U.S. intelligence has observed North Korea moving mobile missile launchers and preparing sites that have been used for previous launches, suggesting a possible test in the coming days, according to the officials, who requested anonymity.
The activity is a strong indication that North Korea’s ballistic missile program is proceeding on its internal schedule, and that the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, is unfazed by the international condemnation of country’s sixth nuclear test, conducted on Sept. 3.
Last week, the Trump administration proposed crippling sanctions on North Korea in response to Kim Jong Un’s underground test of a nuclear device that North Korea claimed was a powerful hydrogen bomb.
However, Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, was forced to water her proposals down in order to win the support of Russia and China.
After the U.N. Security Council adopted the sanctions with a unanimous vote, Trump officials heralded them as the toughest international action approved by the U.N. to date, while expressing some doubt on whether they would convince Kim Jong Un to stop his pursuit of nuclear weapon and an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The resolution “does continue to send a consistent message to the regime of North Korea and importantly to those who continue to enable North Korea’s activities, that the international community does have a common view on the seriousness of North Korea’s proliferation program,” said Secretary of State Tillerson, who was in London on Thursday holding meetings with French and British officials — conversations that included counteracting North Korea’s nuclear proliferation.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Mattis was in Omaha on Thursday visiting U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), and evaluating the nation’s nuclear posture.
“These are the most severe sanctions yet laid on North Korea,” Mattis said Tuesday. “We’ll see what choices the North Koreans make. “The United Nations Security Council spoke with one voice, again recognizing the global threat that DPRK, North Korea constitutes,” he said.