Speculation about the launch has surfaced due to the 75th anniversary of the foundation of North Korea’s Worker’s Party government being just weeks away. The event takes place on October 10, and it is thought the launch could take place to coincide with this.
It is thought this would involve a submarine-launched ballistic missile, or SLBM.
The North is currently recovering from damage it sustained after being hit by typhoons recently.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman nominee Won In-choul said yesterday recovery work is being carried out at a shipyard.
He added: “Once completed, (North Korea) could launch an SLBM by using catapulting devices following preparations for a short period of time.”
The statement from the South marks a sharp change in stance by the country’s military, since Defence Minister nominee General Suh Wook said just three days ago the North would probably not have time to prepare a launch before the date.
According to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, the missile could be the same one North Korean leader Kim Jong-un referred to on New Year’s Day.
At the start of this year, Mr Kim said: “The world will witness a new strategic weapon to be possessed by the DPRK in the near future.”
He added the North would no longer be “unilaterally bound” to a commitment to suspending nuclear tests and ballistic missiles.
READ: Kim Jong-un threat: North Korean leader set for new strategic weapon plot before US vote
The US Department of the Army said in July this year the North could have as many as 60 nuclear bombs – though the nation has the potential to get up to 100 by the end of this year.
The US military said:” North Korea sought nuclear weapons because its leaders thought the threat of a nuclear attack would prevent other countries from contemplating a regime change.”
According to The Hour, submarine-launched missiles are particularly worrying because they are hard to detect before they take off.
If the SLBM test does go ahead next month, it will not be the first time North Korea has fired such a weapon.
In October 2019, the country confirmed it has tested a new ballistic missile which could carry a nuclear warhead and also be launched from a submarine.
The test-launch itself was instead fired from a sea-based platform, but analysts referred to the move as a significant escalation regardless.
Submarine-based missiles also give the North the potential to launch weapons from far beyond its territory, according to the BBC.