April 9th, 2013
04:01 PM ET

U.S.: North Korea could fire missile soon

By Barbara Starr

The Obama administration believes North Korea has most likely completed launch preparations and could test fire mobile ballistic missiles at any time based on the most recent intelligence, a U.S. official said.

A test launch of one or both of missiles thought to be loaded into mobile launchers could happen without North Korea issuing a standard warning to commercial aviation and maritime shipping, according to the official.

The official declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the information.

He cautioned most of the information comes from satellite imagery, so it's impossible to reach a definitive conclusion because the United States has no means to gather information on the ground.

"We hope they issue a notification but at this point we don't expect it. We are working on the assumption they won't, " the official said.

He said the launch could be "imminent" but also cautioned the United States "simply doesn't know."

The official, along with another Pentagon official, confirmed the United States has been able to keep satellites over the suspected launch area for most of the past week.

The United States believes the missiles remain at a point about half way down the eastern coast of North Korea and about 10 miles inland.

Imagery has been impeded by some bad weather which also means there is less than perfect knowledge about what is happening on the ground.

But based on what the United States has seen, the belief is that the missiles have received their liquid fuel and are ready for launch.

After any launch, U.S. satellites and radars in the region will be able to calculate within minutes missile trajectory and quickly conclude whether they are on a test path headed for open ocean or potentially headed for land areas, such as Japan, which could then force the United States and Japan to decide whether to try to shoot them down, both officials told CNN.

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Dan Cobb

    North Korea's Mini Me is having an existential crisis. That, and the diaper is soiled.

    April 10, 2013 at 12:13 am | Reply
  2. George Patton

    hope their missile falls on Iran, not wasted.

    April 9, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Reply
    • cyrus

      George Patton you would better go to a mental hospital dude.

      April 9, 2013 at 11:27 pm | Reply
    • 1371usmc

      That would be some funny shiiit

      April 10, 2013 at 3:43 am | Reply
  3. wjm

    So who is giving the orders in North Korea, it seems pretty much like Kim's uncle is pulling the string. If that is the case it would seem more likely that he doesn't want to start a war, just play it out like they are and hope others will come to the table with concessions in the form of money or foos. This is the third time they have used this ploy and if it worked before they must be hoping it will again. I do think that even if North Korea launches a missle it should be shot down even if were on going in the ocean, to show that the North Korean ability militarily is more show and less go. It would help them understand what their facing if they have any ideas about expanding the issue. North Korea needs a little bit of a sit down so they might re-prioritize where it should be spending its dollars.

    April 9, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Reply
  4. BIG ANT

    WE CANT NOT UNDER ESTIMATE WHAT THE OTHER PERSON IS THINKING. How ever i believe america is concerned with the well being of south korea. If the situation gets worst north korea will fire rockets down on south korea like rain thats my personal belief this siituation will cause a major disruption on that side of the world

    April 9, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Reply
  5. Jesus of Nazareth


    April 9, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Reply
  6. lolo

    This is not a joke

    April 9, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Reply
  7. Braden

    Never underestimate anyone making threats

    April 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  8. Byron

    So now anybody who has two bottle rockets stuck upright in their backyard and a working lighter gets CNN breaking news headlines?

    April 9, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Reply
    • Jbee

      Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe this is a concern due to the recent threats and escalation of hostility coming from North Korea. I don't think your bottle rockets have enough umph to be of concern to the international public.

      April 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Reply
    • 1371usmc

      You figure out away to put a nuke on that bottle rocket like NK has and I would bet you will get all the coverage you want.

      April 10, 2013 at 3:47 am | Reply

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