It appears that North Korea is moving closer to upping the current tensions without crossing the line that they know would lead to retaliation from the ROK and the US:
South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said Thursday that North Korea has moved an intermediate-range missile to its east coast for an imminent test firing or military drill, but it does not seem to be aimed at striking the U.S. mainland.
In a parliamentary defense committee meeting, Kim refuted media reports that Pyongyang has moved a KN-08 missile, which is believed to have a range of 10,000 kilometers, into position to strike the U.S.
Without specifying the type of missile, Kim said it is believed to be able to reach a “considerable distance,” though it is not able to strike the U.S. mainland.
“The missile does not seem to be aimed at the U.S. mainland,” Kim told lawmakers. “It could be aimed at test firing or military drills.”
Although there is slim chance that Pyongyang’s harsh rhetoric could lead to a full-scale war, Kim said the North could launch other forms of provocations, including border clashes and cyber attacks.
“Our military has upgraded several systems and carried out drills under upgraded military readiness status,” Kim said.
According to intelligence analysis by South Korean and U.S. forces, it is believed to be a Musudan missile, which is estimated to have a range of 3,000-4,000 km, putting the U.S. base in Guam within striking.
In positioning the missile on its east coast, the North has prompted the U.S. to move its advanced missile defense system to its base on the Pacific Ocean island of Guam along with radar systems.
It has yet to be confirmed whether the missile is carrying a warhead, but sources forecast that Pyongyang is likely to fire it around the middle of April, when North Koreans celebrate the birthday of the North’s founder, Kim Il-sung. [Yonhap]
You can read the rest at the link, but the Musudan has never been tested before and its believed range would make Guam vulnerable to the missile assuming the North Koreans have the guidance systems on it to actually hit something as small as Guam with any precision. However, they are not going to fire the Musudan at Guam or anyone else. However, if they are test firing this missile from their east coast that means that to demonstrate the range of the missile they would have to fire it over Japan like they did with their Taepodong-1 missile in 1998. Would firing a missile over Japan trigger a military response? I doubt it and the North Koreans may be betting it will not draw a response either. I guess we will have to see what happens later this month.
You can learn more about the Musudan over at Missile Threat as well as the other untested North Korean missile the KN-08 which is their road mobile ICBM over at 38 North which has a real good posting about it.