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North Korea could be preparing new missile launch: Seoul

  • Hwang Sunghee

    Agence France-Presse

Seoul, South Korea   /   Mon, September 4, 2017   /   04:12 pm
 North Korea could be preparing new missile launch: Seoul Celebration: In this image made from video provided by North Korean broadcaster KRT, missiles are paraded at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, on April 15. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has appeared in a massive parade in the capital, Pyongyang, celebrating the birthday of his late grandfather and North Korea founder Kim Il Sung. (KRT via AP/File)

North Korea could be preparing another missile launch, Seoul said Monday as it stepped up its defences following Pyongyang's biggest-ever nuclear test and declaration it had a hydrogen bomb.

The South and the United States will deploy more of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile launchers that have infuriated Beijing, the defence ministry said.

The announcement came after Seoul fired an early morning volley of ballistic missiles in an exercise simulating an attack on the North's nuclear test site.

Pictures showed South Korean short-range Hyunmoo ballistic missiles roaring into the sky in the pale light of dawn from a launch site on the country's east coast.

Pyongyang said the device it detonated Sunday was a hydrogen bomb -- far more powerful than the fission-based devices it is believed to have previously tested -- and small enough to fit into a missile.

The blast laid down a new gauntlet to President Donald Trump, after the North in July twice tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that appeared to bring much of the US mainland into range, and threatened to send a salvo of missiles towards the US territory of Guam.

South Korean defence ministry officials estimated its strength at 50 kilotons -- five times the size of the North's previous nuclear test, and more than three times bigger than the US device which obliterated Hiroshima in 1945.

But they did not confirm whether it was a hydrogen bomb, saying only that "a variety of nuclear material" had been used.