North Korea appears to be preparing to fire a long-range missile, according to a government source in Japan.
Photographs taken by satellite showed what looked like preparations to launch a missile, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported.
The totalitarian state - the world’s only example of hereditary communism - has in the past test-fired missiles over Japan into the Pacific Ocean.
Following the report it was preparing to fire another missile, Commander Bill Urban, of the US Defence Department, urged restraint.
“While I won’t discuss matters of intelligence, I will say that we urge North Korea to refrain from actions and rhetoric that threaten regional peace and security and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments and obligations,” he told South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
“We are concerned that additional North Korean provocations could heighten tensions, lead to a cycle of escalation and threaten the peace and stability on the [Korean] Peninsula.”
Kyodo reported that the missile launch from Dongchang-ri could take place within a week.
Earlier this month, North Korea caused uproar when it carried out a nuclear bomb test.
As a result, the United Nations Security Council and the United States are both considering new sanctions.
Ahead of the nuclear test, North Korea’s state-controlled KCNA news agency reported that its scientists were “in high spirits to detonate H-bombs capable of wiping out the whole territory of the US all at once”.
The creation of its nuclear arsenal was designed “to cope with the US’s ever-more undisguised hostile policy” towards North Korea, it added.
However the nuclear tests were “neither to threaten anyone nor to provoke someone for a certain purpose”, KCNA added.