The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY BILL GERTZ

North Korea is pre­par­ing to con­duct new mis­sile tests amid height­ened ten­sions in North­east Asia.

U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies say Pyongyang will likely con­duct a new salvo of mis­sile launches fol­low­ing the lat­est round of United Na­tions sanc­tions against the reclu­sive com­mu­nist state.

The world or­ga­ni­za­tion on Dec. 1 im­posed ad­di­tional sanc­tions that seek to block North Korea’s rev­enue ob­tained from ex­ports by 25 per­cent. The sanc­tions bar mem­ber-states from pur­chas­ing North Korean cop­per, nickel, silver and zinc ex­ports, and the sale of large stat­ues, a fa­vored pur­chase for African dic­ta­tors. The sanc­tions fol­lowed a re­cent North Korean un­der­ground nu­clear test.

In the past, Pyongyang re­sponded to sim­i­lar sanc­tions with provoca­tive mis­sile launches.

North Korea’s most re­cent mis­sile test was a failed launch of an in­ter­me­di­ate-range bal­lis­tic mis­sile called the Musu­dan in Oc­to­ber. The mis­sile has an es­ti­mated range of 2,000 miles and its de­vel­op­ment has set off alarm bells in the Pen­tagon and in Ja­pan. Of­fi­cials said the next mis­sile test could be a Musu­dan launch to coun­ter­act the ear­lier test fail­ure.

Mil­i­tary of­fi­cials said the North Kore­ans are en­gaged in an im­pres­sive mis­sile de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for sys­tems of vary­ing ranges and launch modes.

North Korea has yet to launch one of its new road-mo­bile KN-08 in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles. The new ICBM is de­ployed on Chi­nese-made mis­sile launch­ers that are banned un­der in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions on Pyongyang.

North Korea has con­ducted sev­eral tests of a new sub­ma­rine-launched mis­sile known as the KN-11. The most re­cent flight test of the mis­sile took place in Au­gust. North Korea also has con­ducted five un­der­ground nu­clear tests, the most re­cent one on Sept. 9.

U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies es­ti­mate the North Korean nu­clear ar­se­nal in­cludes be­tween 10 and 20 war­heads.

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