SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea has been moving missile equipment to a launch pad, an indication that the country is taking steps toward conducting a test launch, a news report said Wednesday.
Yonhap news agency said a vehicle carrying the equipment was seen moving to the Musudan-ni site from a munitions factory near Pyongyang, after the suspected missile was reportedly transferred there.
South Korean and Japanese media reported last week that intelligence had spotted a train carrying a long, cylinder-shaped object — believed to be a long-range missile capable of reaching the western U.S. — to its east coast site in Musudan-ni.
The reports came amid heightened tension between the two Koreas, with Pyongyang announcing late last month it would scrap all peace accords with Seoul and renewing periodic warnings of a war on the divided peninsula.
Yonhap quoted a South Korean government official it did not name as saying that the equipment may be weather-forecasting radar or precision radar aimed at detecting a missile impact area.
"It can be analyzed that the North is proceeding with a missile launch preparation in stages," the official said.
South Korea's main spy agency — the National Intelligence Service — said it could not comment on the report because it is related to intelligence matters. The Defense Ministry said it was checking into details of the report.
On Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates played down reports on the North's missile launch preparation, saying the country's last such test was a failure.
North Korea launched its most advanced rocket, the Taepodong-2, in 2006, but the missile plunged into the ocean shortly after liftoff.