Washington (CNN)The U.S. "sees indications" that North Korea is "likely preparing" for some type of weapons test in association with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers Party on October 10, a U.S. official told CNN.
U.S. official: North Korea 'likely preparing' weapons test
A likely scenario is that North Korea will attempt, for the first time, to test a submarine-launched medium-range ballistic missile at sea off its eastern coast, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the latest intelligence. The test is seen by the U.S. as part of the regime's "usual provocative efforts."
In May, the regime published photos of what it said was leader Kim Jong Un standing in front of a submarine at sea, launching a missile, but U.S. intelligence experts said there was no electronic, infrared or satellite data to suggest a launch had occurred and that only the on-board ejection system was tested.
So far, there is no international notice for ships to remain out of any particular area in anticipation of a test, the official added. North Korea could also fire some short-range missiles, a more typical maneuver by the regime. Several U.S. officials said some type of "show of force" by the regime has been planned, but the exact timing remains to be seen.
U.S. and international monitors are also closely watching land-based missile launch sites and known nuclear test facilities for any indications of activity.
The assessment comes two days after Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command, warned that North Korea has "the capability to reach the homeland with a nuclear weapon from a rocket."
He was speaking at an event hosted by the Washington-based Atlantic Council.
He said that despite the cost challenges in being prepared to defend against such a threat, the U.S. is in a good position to do so.
"We're ready for him, and we're ready 24 hours a day if he should be dumb enough to shoot something at us," Gortney said, referring to Kim. "I'm pretty confident that we're going to knock down the numbers that are going to be shot at us."
He added, "We want to make what we have as best as we can possibly make it. We want to invest in better sensors so that we can see better and make better decisions."