South Korea Says North Appears to be Planning New Missile Test
South Korea's intelligence agency says the North may be preparing to conduct another missile test, just days before U.S. President Donald Trump’s Asia trip.
Officials with the National Intelligence Service told lawmakers Thursday it has detected a flurry of activity at North Korea's missile research facilities in the capital, Pyongyang.
North Korea has conducted a series of tests on it nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in recent years in defiance of international sanctions. NIS officials testified the North's Punggye-ri nuclear test site possibly sustained damage after the regime conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3, as the explosion triggered at least three aftershocks.
"The North will constantly push for further nuclear tests going forward, and the miniaturization and diversification of warheads," the agency said during the briefing.
North Korea's continued nuclear and ballistic missile test programs have led to a war of words between Pyongyang and Trump, who has openly threatened to launch military action against the North. The issue will be a major focus of the U.S. president's upcoming five-nation trip to the Asia Pacific region, which includes a stop Tuesday in Seoul. Trump will also visit Japan, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Catalan Leaders Appear in Spanish Court
A group of leaders from Spain's Catalonia region appeared in two Madrid courts Thursday to answer charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement connected to their push for Catalonia's independence.
Not among them was ousted leader Carles Puigdemont, who has spent this week in Brussels and did not abide by the court's order to appear. He has dismissed the charges as politically motivated and said he would only return to Spain if he receives a guarantee that the legal process will be impartial and fair.
A spokesman for Spain's ruling Popular Party, told the Associated Press Puigdemont's failure to appear in Madrid Thursday for the hearing could trigger the issuance of an arrest warrant and a petition to extradite him.
Prosecutors have filed charges against 14 Catalan leaders, including Puigdemont and his deputy.
Spain's central government moved to take control of Catalonia last week and disbanded the regional parliament in response to an October 1 independence referendum and subsequent declaration of independence by Catalan lawmakers.
Catalonia itself is divided on the secession issue. Those who participated in the referendum opted for independence, but the opposition boycotted the vote, while the Madrid government also declared it illegal.
Last week's move to strip Catalonia of its autonomy also included setting up new elections in the region for December.