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North Korea May Be Nearly Ready to Test New Missile

Launch from submarine of a new system would violate Trump's mandate
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2020 8:38 AM CDT

(Newser) – North Korea is showing signs of preparing for a test launch of a medium-range ballistic missile, a step that would cross lines set by President Trump. Experts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies see indications of planning for a submarine-based launch in satellite images taken Friday, NBC News reports. At the Sinpo South Shipyard, they spotted a submersible test stand barge, two Romeo-class submarines that might serve as escorts for a test, and a ship that might be the type to tow the test barge out of the bay. Victor Cha of the center said there's been much activity surrounding the test barge. "This looks like they are certainly preparing to do an SLBM test for the first time," he said. "Kim Jong Un has been talking about unveiling a new strategic weapon, and this may be it."

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Although his demands that North Korea's ruler drop its nuclear and missile programs haven't changed much, per Reuters, Trump has pointed to the lack of intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear tests since 2017 as diplomatic victories. He's largely overlooked shorter-range tests. "We've gotten along with them," he said Friday. "We didn't get to war." But a test before the November presidential election would seem to be problematic. "A sea-launched missile test would definitely cross all of President Trump’s red lines because it would involve a major ballistic missile," Cha said. "It would be difficult for President Trump to ignore this." An expert at MIT predicted online that Trump would do so anyway, pointing to the lack of response to a test last October. "It didn't cross Trump's redline then, and is unlikely to this time," he said. "Trump won't care." (Read more North Korea missile launch stories.)

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