North Korea is suspected of readying to conduct another trial firing of a strategic ballistic missile, Reuters reported on Friday.
"The United States has detected moves that are seen as preparation by North Korea for a long-range missile launch, which could take place as early as this month," the Japanese Asahi newspaper reported, based on comments from anonymous government officials.
The Stalinist state is understood to be working on a strategic high-altitude missile with a top flight distance of 4,200 miles. However, its two most recent flight tests were unsuccessful. In the most recent attempt in April, which Pyongyang claimed was a peaceful effort to place a satellite into orbit, the long-range rocket broke apart after only traveling about 60 miles.
A South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff source would not affirm whether launch preparations had been identified at the North's Dongchang-ri missile complex.
Recent pictures from U.S. satellites indicated the North has transported what are thought to be strategic missile components to the firing location. The detected parts are not unlike those spied this past spring prior to Pyongyang's unsuccessful rocket launch, RIA Novosti reported.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura on Monday said the government was collecting intelligence about the suspected missile firing and was prepared "to take thorough measures to protect the country."
South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said while he could not confirm the suspected missile test preparations, "the South Korean military is closely watching moves by North Korea," the Yonhap News Agency reported.