North Korea's new missile launch tower may allow it to strike US directly

London, Feb 18(ANI): North Korea has reportedly completed a launch tower at its Tongchang-ri missile base, which is seen as a key step in the country's quest for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could possibly strike the United States.

According to the Telegraph, a satellite image taken on January 10 of the base shows a movable launch pad and swing arms along with the tower.

It is also bigger and more advanced than the Musudan-ri base on the east coast, which the North used to launch long-range missiles in 1998, 2006 and 2009.

Work at Tongchang-ri has been monitored for over two years, and South Korean officials had said in October 2009 that construction was near completion.

However, the latest images are the first to show a launch tower.

Meanwhile, the images have prompted a senior US military commander to describe the development as a "major concern".

"This is a major concern of ours. When you package that together with the provocative actions that we saw in 2010, and the complexities of succession that are currently ongoing in North Korea, it should concern us all," Admiral Robert Willard, head of the US Pacific Command said.

Willard, however, played down speculation of an imminent missile launch by North Korea.

"There are no signs that I'm aware of that they're preparing for near-term missile tests," Willard said. (ANI)

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