TOKYO - North Korea, under heavy UN sanctions for its nuclear weapons program, could be preparing a long-range ballistic missile test, a Japanese newspaper said on Friday, citing officials who have seen US intelligence analysis.
The report comes just weeks before South Korea's Dec. 19 presidential election in which how to handle North Korea is a major campaign issue. The isolated North has for years tried to influence major events in the South by waging propaganda or armed attacks.
North and South Korea have been technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, and regional powers have for years been trying to rein in the North's nuclear program.
"The United States has detected moves that are seen as preparation by North Korea for a long-range missile launch, which could take place as early as this month," the Asahi daily said citing unnamed government officials.
The United States traditionally shares such information with its two allies in the region, South Korea and Japan.