North Korea is preparing to test a long-range missile which it believes can reach the west coast of the United States, a Russian lawmaker just returned from a visit to Pyongyang was quoted as saying on Friday.
Anton Morozov, a member of the Russian lower house of parliament’s international affairs committee, and two other Russian lawmakers visited Pyongyang on 2-6 October, Russia’s RIA reported.
Tensions have risen in recent weeks over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs as Pyongyang has test-fired several missiles and conducted what it said was a test explosion of a hydrogen bomb as it advances toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.
Morozov’s comments drove up the price of US Treasury bonds, as investors, worried about the prospect of new North Korean missile tests, moved into assets the market views as a safe haven in times of uncertainty.
In Washington, a US official said that there had been indications that North Korea could be preparing for a missile test on or around 10 October, the anniversary of the founding of the ruling Korean Workers Party and a day after the Columbus Day holiday in the United States.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not disclose the type of missile that could be tested and cautioned that North Korea in the past has not staged launches despite indications that it would.
A senior CIA analyst, speaking at a conference in Washington this week, said the North Korean government likely would stage some kind of provocation on 10 October but did not elaborate on what form it might take.
Morozov’s delegation had “high-level” meetings in Pyongyang, RIA news agency said, citing the Russian embassy in the North Korean capital.
Tensions over North Korea’s nuclear programme have been running high in recent weeks since Pyongyang staged a series of missile tests, and conducted a text explosion on 3 September of what it said was a hydrogen bomb.
There has also been an exchange of tough rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington.
President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatens the United States. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un responded by calling Trump deranged and saying he would pay dearly for his threat.
China, North Korea’s main ally, has backed sanctions against Pyongyang and on Saturday in response to the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said it backed a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons.
Source: News agencies