Intel: North Korea planning nuclear missile tests

America's top intelligence official warns of its capabilities

(CNN) – Information from U.S. intelligence, and a respected national security think-tank, says that we could see more missile-launches – or even a nuclear bomb-test – from North Korea in the coming days or weeks, possibly sometime around Tuesday’s election.

It’s seen as a way for Kim Jong Un to project his strength – and even try to strong-arm the incoming American president.

The specter of a ‘November surprise’ from Kim Jong Un – raises serious concerns from Seoul, to Washington.

U.S. military officials CNN spoke to say they see no signs Wednesday that North Korea is preparing for a medium-range ballistic missile test, as some reports suggest. But they stress, those medium-range missiles, called ‘Musudans’ – are fired from road-mobile launchers, and a launch could happen at any time.

And there is a separate warning – that the upcoming U.S. election could motivate Kim’s regime to do something dangerous to provoke the United States. That warning comes from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, CSIS, and is published on its website “Beyond Parallel.”

Victor Cha from the CSIS says, “Doing a major test would be a way of trying to intimidate the incoming president.”

Just this year alone, Kim Jong Un has fired off at least 15 missile tests – and two nuclear bomb tests, making five overall. Just last month, North Korea tested two Musudans. They failed – leaving large burn-marks on roads.

Joshua Pollack from the Middlebury Inst. of International Studies says, “The burn marks, here and here, tell us that the missiles probably exploded upon launch or shortly thereafter.”

But Kim’s regime did successfully test a Musudan this past summer. Experts say it’s a major threat.

Pollack says, “The Musudan as you can see is launched off of this truck. It’s a mobile missile. That means that it’s very difficult to track it and to detect it’s presence before launch. Unlike a silo-based missile.”

It’s a missile which could carry a nuclear warhead as far as Guam – where America has military bases.

North Korea’s also improving its longer-range, intercontinental ballistic missiles. America’s top intelligence official warns of its capabilities, once it’s flight-tested.

A key question: why would Kim want to provoke the U.S. – around the time America elects its next president?

Cha says, “These are just not random. North Korea chooses particular windows that they know will gain maximum attention from the world, and the U.S. in particular.”

Cha also says the number one security issue for the next American president will be the threat from Kim’s regime, if and when he demonstrates he has the capability to reach the mainland U.S. with a nuclear warhead. Weapons experts say Kim could have that operational capability within five to ten years.

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