North Korea Seen Moving ICBM Into Position For Possible Launch: Report

The USDJPY and 10Y yields snapped lower and gold kneejerked higher following the latest North Korea-related headline out of Bloomberg, according to which:

  • NKOREA STARTS MOVING ICBM FOR POSSIBLE LAUNCH BEFORE SAT.:DAILY

Bloomberg references a just released article in the Asia Business Daily, according to which North Korea started moving the ICBM-class missile, produced at a new Pyongyang research center, on Monday following Sunday's thermonuclear test.

The report confirms overnight intelligence from South Korea: recall first thing this morning, Yonhap reported that South Korea's spy agency said it had detected that North Korea is making preparations for a possible intercontinental ballistic missile launch, a move that would further raise tensions a day after it conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear detonation.

Chang Kyung-soo, acting chief of the defense ministry’s policy planning office, told lawmakers on Monday that North Korea was making preparations for a missile firing, according to Bloomberg while Yonhap adds that South Korea's spy agency said there was a chance the North could fire an ICBM into the Pacific Ocean, saying that the isolated state was able to conduct a nuclear test at any time.

According to the just released Business Daily report, there is high chance N. Korea will fire ICBM missile before Sept. 9 national founding day. More details from the original report, Google translated:

According to the authorities, one ballistic missile produced by a weapons research institute dedicated to the production of North Korea's ICBM was found to be moving to the west of Hwanghae Island after being mounted on the 4th Mobile Launch Base (TEL) on the day after the 6th nuclear test.

...

Earlier this year, North Korea built a 1980-square-meter weapons lab, which could manufacture ICBMs, in Pyongyang. It was last February that the weapon laboratory was released to the outside world. Although it was a wilderness until 2009, it has now been transformed into a strategic hub for North Korea's major missiles.

...

According to a joint US-ROK report, North Korea has a maximum of 900 ballistic missiles, and it has been confirmed that there are 108 aircraft capable of launching surprise attacks. According to ballistic missiles, the number of Scud missiles and TEL that can mount Scud missiles are the most common. The number of Scud missiles is 430 (TEL 36).

The report concludes by noting that according to S. Korean intel, "if North Korea conducts further ICBM provocations there is a high possibility that it will choose an unpredictable time and place. To this end, Pyongyang may launch missiles directly from the mobile launch base, or launch multiple missiles at multiple locations simultaneously."

The report also notes that the ICBM mobile launcher is moving "at low speed mainly during the night time" to avoid detection by foreign intelligence authorities. In other words, the US now has a conveniently moving target and a due date by which North Korea will likely launch its next rocket, effectively giving Trump a greenlight for a "preemptive" strike over the next five days.

The market's reaction to the news, while not as dramatic as to Sunday's nuclear test, confirms just how much on edge traders remain for every headline out of North Korea.

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