North Korea has placed two medium-range missiles onto mobile launchers and hid them in an unidentified facility on the eastern coast, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported on Friday.
Citing military sources in the navy, Yonhap reported that South Korea has responded by sending Aegis destroyers with advanced radar to its coasts.
According to U.S. officials, the missile components are consistent with a Musudan, which would have a 1,875-mile range. This kind of missile could affect South Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia, but it is not capable of going far enough to hit the U.S. mainland.
Reports in Japanese and South Korean media that said that the missile could be a KN-08, a long-range missile, and could reach the U.S. were dismissed by South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin. He said the movement of the missiles is unknown, but it “could be for testing or drills.”
Kim told Yonhap that the missile launchers do not appear to be trained on the U.S.
If launched, officials believe the missile is a test or drill, not a targeted strike. A U.S. official said that intercepted communications did indicate that Pyongyang might issue a mobile ballistic missile launch soon.
As tensions have been building on the peninsula, North Korea asked the Russian Embassy to consider evacuating its staff, according to Denis Samsonov, press officer of the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang. The Russian Embassy has yet to issue a decision on the matter.
"It is yet another offering in a long line of provocative statements that only serve to further isolate North Korea from the rest of the international community and undermine its goal of economic development," said U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.
"North Korea should stop its provocative threats and instead concentrate on abiding by its international obligations."