Updated: 04/09/17 : 07:59:37
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World :: South Korea says North Korea preparing for possible intercontinental ballistic missile launch

South Korea detected that North Korea is continuing to prepare for a possible intercontinental ballistic missile launch, an official said, 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 launch, but didn’t give a timeframe for a potential launch.

South Korea earlier in the day paved the way for the full deployment of a U.S. missile defense system while its military conducted a live-fire drill with North Korea’s test site as the virtual target. The Environment Ministry on Monday decided to conditionally approve an environmental impact report on the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, Yonhap News reported.

That would remove the final administrative hurdle for complete installment of the missile shield, known as Thaad, which China sees as a threat to the region’s “strategic equilibrium.” The Yonhap news agency said that South Korea and the U.S. were discussing deployment of a U.S. carrier group and strategic bombers.

Following the nuclear test, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to increase economic sanctions and halt trade with any nation doing business with North Korea -- a threat he has used before without following through. That list would include China, the U.S.’s biggest trading partner, which accounted for about a sixth of its overseas commerce.