People watch a television broadcasting a report on North Korea’s firing of a ballistic missile off its east coast, in Seoul, South Korea March 5, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

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SEOUL, March 14 (Reuters) – The South Korean government believes North Korea could test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as early as this week, state media said, citing unidentified sources.

Tension on the Korean peninsula has risen amid growing signs that Pyongyang may soon follow through on its threats to restart such tests, breaking a self-imposed moratorium in 2017. Read more

Incumbent President Moon Jae-in’s office told President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol that a test launch was imminent and would not be surprising if it took place on Monday, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported.

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Yonhap News Agency said separately that South Korea and the United States had detected signs of an upcoming test.

The comment came as Moon’s national security adviser Suh Hoon briefed Yoon on foreign and security policy matters on Saturday, the report said, citing an unnamed official from the president-elect’s office.

“It’s so imminent that it wouldn’t be surprising if they shot it on Monday,” he said, quoting Suh. “We are taking the situation seriously.”

A spokesperson for Moon’s office said Suh briefed Yoon on North Korea’s recent moves, including recent missile launches and the Ukraine crisis, among other things, but declined to comment on the Chosun Ilbo report. .

Yoon’s spokesman, Kim Eun-hye, told reporters there may be additional briefings for the president-elect, but did not confirm details of the security concerns.

In a meeting with senior officials, Moon called on Pyongyang to stop escalating tensions and seek diplomacy, and pledged to maintain a strong security posture.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry for Inter-Korean Affairs also urged the North to immediately cease actions that “go against peace and stability” on the peninsula.

On Friday, the United States and South Korea said in a rare joint announcement that the North had used its largest-ever ICBM in two recent launches, under the guise of satellite launch preparations. Read more

The missile system, the Hwasong-17, was unveiled at a military parade in Pyongyang in 2020 and reappeared at a defense exhibition in October 2021. read more

The Dong-A Ilbo newspaper also reported on Monday, citing unnamed government sources, that a carrier-erector-launcher used to fire road-mobile missiles such as the Hwasong-17 was spotted around Pyongyang airport, where have been the two recent tests. tenuous.

Yoon, who was elected president last week, had signaled a tougher line against Pyongyang.

While remaining open to the resumption of stalled denuclearization talks, he said pre-emptive strikes might be needed to counter an imminent North Korean missile attack and pledged to purchase additional US THAAD missile interceptors. Read more

Ahead of the election, Yoon also warned of “even greater pressure from the international community if North Korea fires an ICBM under the guise of a satellite launch.”

He declined to comment further on Sunday.

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Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Clarence Fernandez

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