North Korea appears to be preparing to test-fire a ballistic missile that could be capable of striking the western United States, a South Korean official and reports said Tuesday.
The move comes amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula, with the North declaring last week that it was abandoning pacts designed to prevent hostilities with the South.
The two Koreas technically remain at war because their three-year conflict ended in 1953 with a truce, not a peace treaty. Relations have been tense since President Lee Myung-bak took office a year ago with a tough new policy on Pyongyang, and rhetoric from the North Korean capital has escalated in recent days.
Analysts say the communist regime is trying to attract President Barack Obama's attention as he formulates his North Korea policy. Obama told Lee that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would visit Seoul in mid-February.