U.S. officials monitoring North Korean military activities have reportedly detected signs of an impending missile launch.
Satellite imagery of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in northwestern North Korea indicated increased activity, including the possible arrival of rocket fuel and missile components, U.S. officials told Reuters on Jan. 28. This evidence suggests the country may attempt a missile test launch within the next several weeks. However, one official told AFP that there has been no indication the country would be launching a ballistic missile, BBC notes.
North Korea’s latest missile launch took place in 2012. Although North Korea said its space program is peaceful, the U.S. fears that the country could be working to develop ICBM (inter-continental ballistic missile) capabilities.
During a trip to Beijing on Jan. 27, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned against North Korea's plan to create an ICBM with the capacity to a nuclear warhead.
"It is a threat the United States must take extremely seriously," Kerry told reporters, according to Reuters.
"The United States will do what is necessary to protect people in our country and our friends and allies in the world," he added.
Coupled with its recent alleged testing of a hydrogen bomb, North Korea's behavior has been viewed as aggressive by many in the global community. The United Nations Security Council, which denounced the 2012 launch as "a clear violation" of global arms agreements and imposed fresh sanctions on North Korea, has considered responding with a further increase in sanctions to reflect the severity of the new developments.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency tested its ground-based interceptors at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Jan. 28; the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee expanded existing sanctions on North Korea on the same day. The U.S. currently has 30 missile interceptors in place, with the military soon to add 14 more.