After numerous recent threats of nuclear war towards the United States and South Korea, North Korean forces have been observed moving what appear to be mid-range missiles towards the country’s east coast.
According to Reuters, intelligence officials are unsure whether or not the Musudan mid-range missiles are carry explosive warheads. The news organization suggests that the missiles may simply be “a show of force.”
"South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities have obtained indications the North has moved an object that appears to be a mid-range missile to the east coast," an anonymous South Korean source told Reuters.
According to the Guardian, the North Korean Musudan missile has an estimated range of about 3,000 km (1,875 miles), placing the entirety of South Korea and Japan in the range of North Korea’s mid-range arsenal. Some reports also suggest that the United States territory of Guam is in range of these North Korean missiles as well. Reuters notes, however, that most experts believe the missiles remain untested. North Korea has also not successfully tested a long-range missile capable of hitting the mainland United States.
The transportation of North Korean missiles toward the country’s east coast comes soon after the communist country “ratified” nuclear strikes against the United States.
"We formally inform the White House and Pentagon that the ever-escalating U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK (North Korea) and its reckless nuclear threat will be smashed by the strong will of all the united service personnel and people and cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means of the DPRK and that the merciless operation of its revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified," a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People's Army said in a statement carried by the English language service of the state news agency KCNA.
"The responsibility for this grave situation entirely rests with the U.S. administration and military warmongers keen to encroach upon the DPRK's sovereignty and bring down its dignified social system with brigandish logic,” the news brief added.
In response to North Korean threats, United States officials have moved to place a missile-defense system in the territory of Guam. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) being supplied to Guam includes a truck-mounted launcher, interceptor missiles, an AN/TPY-2 tracking radar and an integrated fire-control system.
"I hope the North will ratchet this very dangerous rhetoric down," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told CNN in response to North Korea’s statements. "There is a pathway that is responsible for the North to get on a path to peace working with their neighbors. There are many, many benefits to their people that could come. But they have got to be a responsible member of the world community, and you don't achieve that responsibility and peace and prosperity by making nuclear threats and taking very provocative actions."