Enough bluster: Apparently Kim Jong-Un intends to walk the walk.
A prominent arms analyst has told an Australian think-tank that U.S. troop movements west of the peninsula indicate that a North Korean missile launch is imminent.
From the Lowy Institute for International Policy:
"The United States, Australia and other allies appear to be taking important policy decisions on the basis of the imminent deployment of the KN-08. If this is the case, they should say so directly and provide the basis for asserting the imminent deployment of the KN-08," said Jeffrey Lewis, founding editor of Arms Control Wonk.
The impending launch comes on the heels of intelligence about missile movements on the western side of the peninsula. Pentagon Press Secretary told reporters yesterday that "test flights" of certain missile systems were possible.
The surest sign of intent occurred Wednesday morning when North Korea delayed the passage of and then blocked hundreds of South Korean workers from the shared Kaesong market. If the market remains closed on Thursday, it would be another strong indicator of intent.
This measure from Kim Jong-Un follows significant troop movements on behalf of both the U.S. and China. Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon recently reported that troops have begun staging in two of China's northeast provinces.
Those provinces both align with known nuclear sites inside North Korea.
Meanwhile, t he U.S. has moved an advanced radar and two Aegis class destroyers off the west coast. The $900 million SBX radar array has been compared to the Iron Dome in Israel, only much more accurate — and the Aegis-class destroyers are particularly adept at knocking missiles out of the sky.
The kicker, though, is that until recently, analysts thought these particular North Korean missiles were just a prop. Little is known about KN-08 road-mobile missile, other than from what was seen at a parade in April 2012.
Analysts say it could be medium-range, or worse, an intercontinental variety. Still, they have no idea what to expect.
There's also talk about the somewhat less terrifying Musudan, which is believed to be a varient of the SCUD — a missile more fit for terrifying soft-targets, like population centers, rather than taking out military targets.
Though Gertz and other analysts tend to believe China's troop movements are in support of North Korea, recent calls from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to top military leadership in China indicate some level of cooperation.
Recently, the Army released information about a wargame concerning the fall of Kim Jong-Un, the collapse of the government, and follow on actions to protect the estimated eight nuclear warheads in North Korean possession.
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