FILE PHOTO: A Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is launched at Pyongyang International Airport, North Korea February 18, 2023 in this photo released by North Korea’s Central News Agency (KCNA). REUTERS/KCNA via REUTERS

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL, Feb 22 (Reuters) – North Korea may test launching ICBMs with a lower trajectory and longer range and conduct its seventh nuclear test this year to sharpen its weapons capability, lawmakers said on Wednesday. South Koreans who base their information on those responsible. for intelligence services.

So far, North Korea has only tested high-trajectory intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), but it has already acquired the ability to launch them at a normal angle, allowing them to go much farther. said the parliamentarians after a briefing from the Seoul National Council. Intelligence Service (IRS).

Lawmakers said Pyongyang could conduct an ICBM test on a normal trajectory to pressure the United States, which recently held military exercises in the region and is planning larger-scale drills in the coming months.

The meeting came as the navies of the United States, South Korea and Japan conducted joint tactical exercises in the waters between their Asian neighbors on Wednesday.

A Japanese escort ship and U.S. and South Korean destroyers have joined drills aimed at bolstering the trilateral ballistic missile response, Tokyo’s defense ministry said.

North Korea fired an ICBM on Saturday and two more short-range ballistic missiles on Monday, and leader Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister has threatened to use the Pacific as a “firing range” based on US behavior.

“So far, no ICBMs have been launched from a normal angle, but North Korea has all the capabilities and seems to be preparing a schedule to increase the pressure effect on the United States,” Yoo Sang said. -bum, member of the ICBM. told reporters from the House Intelligence Committee after the briefing.

North Korea is also likely to carry out what would be its first nuclear test since 2017 and launch a spy satellite this year, but it has yet to master the technology to equip multiple rocket launchers with atomic devices, it said. Yoo.

“There is the possibility of a seventh test which would be essential to complete the miniaturization and lightening of the weight of nuclear bombs,” he said.

Youn Kun-young, another member of the committee, said North Korea may also develop solid-fuel-based ICBMs this year, confirming the Defense Ministry report that there had been no incursions of Chinese spy balloon in South Korean airspace.

Also on Wednesday, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry claimed that UN Secretary-General António Guterres had been “grossly unfair and unbalanced” regarding his missile tests.

António Guterres condemned North Korea’s latest ICBM launch and urged it to immediately cease its provocations, comply with Security Council resolutions banning such tests and resume denuclearization talks.

Kim Son Gyong, Pyongyang’s deputy foreign minister for international organizations, said in a statement collected by state news agency KCNA that “he must clearly understand that his irrational and one-sided stance on the issue of the Korean Peninsula acts as an inciting factor for hostile acts by the United States and its supporters”.

“If a situation that no one wants should arise on the Korean peninsula … (Guterres) will never be able to get rid of the heavy responsibility that comes with it,” he added.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing in Spanish by Flora Gómez)

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